- J.M. Smucker is releasing a bite-sized meat and cheese version of its Uncrustables frozen sandwich brand. They will hit store shelves in October.
- The company said in an email that the smaller sandwiches, which come in Uncured Ham & Cheddar and Turkey & Colby Jack varieties, target the school lunch market. They can go from the freezer to the lunchbox and will be ready to eat at lunchtime.
- Convenient food options are becoming more important to consumers, while manufacturers are interested in developing new options for their successful products.
Smucker’s leadership has said recently they envision Uncrustables growing into a $1 billion brand during the next five years.
Looking at the numbers, it doesn’t seem too farfetched of a goal. The company makes approximately 3 million of its frozen crustless sandwiches a day, and annual revenue from the brand is more than $500 million a year, according to Cleveland.com.
In prepared remarks during the company’s first-quarter earnings report in August, Smucker President and CEO Mark Smucker touted more than 30% net sales growth for the Uncrustables brand.
With that kind of growth, it makes sense for the company to extend its brand into a new and more lunchbox-friendly line. The new Uncrustables are different in two key ways: They’re smaller, making them an easy snack, but they’re also the line’s first thaw-and-eat sandwich-style product that isn’t peanut butter and jelly.
At the Barclays Consumer Staples Conference earlier this month, Smucker and CFO Tucker Marshall said they’ve been pleased with the performance of Uncrustables.
Smucker said the introduction of a few non-peanut butter and jelly Uncrustable products — including thaw-and-eat meat and cheese roll-ups, and heat-and-eat bites stuffed with uncured pepperoni, taco seasoning and barbecue chicken — has shown the Uncrustables brand can expand its reach.
Smucker has been expanding its Uncrustables capacity in the last several years. Before then, they had been manufactured at a single plant in Scottsville, Kentucky.
In 2017, Smucker announced it was building its Longmont, Colorado, manufacturing facility, the second one dedicated to the handheld sandwiches. That plant opened in 2019, and the company broke ground on an expansion in 2020. The second phase of the Colorado plant should be operational in the coming months.
A third plant to make the sandwiches in McCalla, Alabama, is currently under construction. That plant, in which Smucker invested $1.1 billion, is “on track” and slated to begin operations in 2025, Smucker said at the Barclays conference.
While peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are often thought of as the quintessential childhood lunch, adding new options to the Uncrustables line that are nut-free helps make them more school lunch accessible. Many schools don’t allow peanut butter in the cafeteria because of allergies.
But unlike the peanut butter and jelly Uncrustables, which were the only brand on the market for years, the meat and cheese sandwich pocket bites already have some competition. Earlier this year, Nestlé launched its Deliwich brand, a thaw-and-eat sandwich with varieties in meat and cheese and just cheese. Deliwich is a spinoff of Nestlé’s hugely popular heat-and-serve Hot Pockets brand.