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Grainful, an Ithaca, N.Y.-based maker of entrées and side dishes incorporating steel-cut oats, takes a double-barreled approach to providing meal solutions. "At Grainful, we think of meal solutions from two vantage points: culinary inspiration and convenience," explains co-founder Jan Pajerski. "To us, a meal solution is something that makes creating a delicious meal much simpler (worldwide cuisines, ingredients, seasonings and recipes are made accessible); makes cooking a meal much more convenient (cook and prep time are significantly reduced); or, ideally, something that does both."
With these principles firmly in mind, the company is already well prepared for what it sees as the future of meal solutions, and continues to make improvements. "Many of the leaders in the food industry have vowed to clean up their ingredients, as far as eliminating preservatives and artificial colors and flavors," notes co-founder Jeannine Sacco, "but they are a long way from getting those cleaner products into the customers' shopping carts. Many of the companies won't see this happen for another four years. We have already committed to clean ingredients, no preservatives, and are on the path of having our [frozen] entrées be Non-GMO Project verified. We are looking further down the road, beyond Non-GMO, gluten-free and clean ingredients. We encompass those certifications along with food that tastes great and is actually 'good for you.' I think we are going to start seeing a lot of ready-to-eat meals in shelf-stable packaging that contain zero preservatives."
The reason for this, according to Sacco, is that shoppers won’t accept anything less. "Today's consumers, especially the Millennial generation, want to know and understand the food supply chain," she asserts. "I think this is going to put a lot of pressure on manufacturers of foods, who will then put pressure on the farmers."