- Pinnacle Foods announced Monday that it is dropping 16 Aunt Jemima frozen products, including waffles, french toast slices and pancakes, as well frozen breakfast items for food service, according to a company statement.
- Many of these products were voluntarily recalled by the company on Friday after they were found to potentially be contaminated by listeria, a company statement said.
- The company claims it had already planned to drop the products before the recall. “The decision to exit these products now was the appropriate action for Pinnacle," Pinnacle Foods CEO Mark Clouse said in a statement. "It is consistent with our plans to enhance the on-going margin of the Company and focus our efforts and investments on more profitable growth opportunities longer term. While the timing of this exit was accelerated by the voluntary recall we initiated last week, these items are low-margin, non-strategic SKUs that we expected to exit at some point in the foreseeable future."
Possible contamination made Pinnacle Foods' decision to drop the well-known Aunt Jemima frozen breakfast products easy to swallow. The quick recall and abrupt end to the lines may make some consumers upset, but the manufacturer can now quickly move on from the problematic products and concentrate on other items that can boost its bottom line.
While Pinnacle's most recent earnings exceeded analyst expectations, the manufacturer has more room to grow. The report said nothing about disappointing sales for Aunt Jemima products, but Monday morning's announcement called them "low-margin and non-strategic" — the type of products that don't seem to get investors excited.
But this isn't the end of the line for frozen Aunt Jemima products from Pinnacle. Future offerings will be different and more premium, ranging from mini pancakes, french toast sticks, breakfast entrees and Griddle Poppers. This could be a lucrative strategy for Pinnacle. According to Nielsen, convenient breakfast dishes saw the highest growth in dollar sales in 2016 — up 82.3% from the prior year. With new and more differentiated offerings, Pinnacle will be able to better tap into that market instead of directly competing for market share with several other frozen pancake and waffle brands.
The strategy may not work, however, if consumers can't shake memories of the recall of the other, now-discontinued Aunt Jemima products. Pinnacle should be wary of this possibility and bolster the launch of its newer products with a marketing campaign that will build excitement for the brand — and help consumers forget the recall.