“The thing we continue to do, and we've been doing it for 30 years, is trying to get consumers to realize that actually veggies can taste delicious, and they can be healthy, and they can be convenient. Those are really the pillars of Dr. Praeger’s. [We] have always been trying to find interesting ways to make vegetables with interesting flavor profiles ...while keeping it simple and clean and convenient.”
Rebrand to meet consumer demands for ‘veggie-forward options’
Founded in 1994 by practicing cardiac surgeons Peter Praeger (Larry's father) and Eric Somberg, the company – initially named Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods – specializes in providing frozen healthy and nutritious foods.
Currently, the company offers a line of burgers, veggie fries, patties, puffs, kid snacks, and bowls. The offerings include the No. 1 veggie burger brand in Whole Foods and four of the top five spots for best-selling kid’s frozen items with its Littles line at Target, per Nielson and Circana Target data, respectively.
To celebrate 30 years, the brand is rolling out a new packaging design, logo, and tagline – changing it from “Purely Sensible Foods” to “Tasty Meets Veggie.” The rebrand is tapping into consumer demands for more vegetables and healthier foods by showcasing the deliciousness of vegetables, Larry Praeger said.
As part of its recent report on processed foods, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that 84% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed are prioritizing a healthy diet with 33% of shoppers saying that they are doing that by eating more vegetables and fruits. Despite this, only 9% of adults eat the daily recommended amount of vegetables, with 12% of consumers eating the recommended amount of fruit, according to the CDC.
“Consumers are really looking for other veggie-forward options, and they are looking for cleaner labels, which is something that has been going on for a long time. And they are looking for products and ingredients that they know and something that they can feel good about," said Larry Praeger.
The changing retail landscape for plant-based
As the plant-based category adjusts to new a reality – where plant-based meat sales have slumped – Larry Praeger says that the category is returning to its roots, and that products highlighting plant-based messages are resonating with consumers.
"It's been a steady climb. It's always like one step forward, and then maybe two steps forward, and over the past few years, we've obviously had a tremendous amount of attention come into the category with some of the other brands [getting] people to try the products, which has actually been great," Larry Praeger said. "We are pretty different in that [our products are] veggie-forward, and we aren’t putting anything in there that hasn't been around for thousands of years. We're just putting it in a different format and a different flavor."
Despite the broader category challenges, plant-based foods have become a staple in grocery stores, and retailers are still dedicated to the category and giving it shelf space, Larry Praeger said.
“The landscape has changed a bit. I think the retailers really over the past 10 years, if not a little bit more, have realized that natural foods and plant-based foods are here to stay, and there is a section that is going to have to be dedicated to it, and it's a matter of finding the right mix of products,” Larry Praeger said. “I think back to the 30 years, it's something that we've been doing for so long. We've obviously worked with these retailers, and we're a trusted vendor.”