The individually quick frozen pellets (IQF) are small blocks of sauce that are the same size as the other frozen ingredients in a skillet meal, such as pasta, vegetables and meat. And the size of the pellet means that the ingredients thaw at the same time during cooking. IQF technology is a rapid freezing process which preserves peak flavor, texture, and color of ingredients. Last year Sargento Foods Inc acquired Portionables, Inc, a manufacturer of frozen sauce and value-added food which specialized in the production of IQF portion control foods. Since then Delahunt, president of Sargento's food ingredients division, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: "We are seeing tremendous interest and growth in the area of portion controlled sauces and also the pellets of sauce. "It is driven by this new innovative capacity of providing IQF pellets. "One of the key benefits of these pellets is that we can provide very high end cream and cheese-based sauces that are difficult to incorporate traditionally." Delahunt added that predominantly it is the consumer trend in convenience food that is causing this category to grow. However, chain restaurants are also interested because the IQF pellets can be used at short notice and in varying quantities to create a dish quickly. Sargento Foods is a family-owned company is made up of three business divisions - consumer products, food service and food ingredients - and it employs approximately 1300 people at four Wisconsin facilities. The ingredients division supplies food manufactures with custom cheese products including sliced, shredded and diced cheeses, portion control packs, fillings and sauces. Delahunt claims Sargento is the leader in "formulation and one-stop-shop manufacturing capability for these pellet". He said: "There is virtually no sauce that you cannot freeze in a pellet and most manufacturing systems do not freeze as quickly as IQF. "We are putting a great deal of R&D resources behind the development of our products."