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Jimmy Dean moves beyond breakfast for first time

Jimmy Dean

NEW YORK (AP) - Jimmy Dean is coming to dinner - and lunch, too.

The sausage brand started by the late country singer of the same name has become a breakfast staple, with products even including a pancake-and-sausage on a stick. Now the brand is hoping its new bowls and sandwiches can lure eaters at other meals.

Jimmy Dean, owned by Hillshire Brands, is rolling out 16 microwavable products that cost around $3 each and are designed to be eaten later in the day, including a pulled pork sandwich and grilled steak bowl.

Hillshire's expansion into products that aren't made entirely out of meat has been critical in helping fatten the company's profit margins. The problem is that there's little Hillshire can do to manage rising costs to make products like hot dogs, sausages and lunch meats, which are basically just meat. With foods like sandwiches and bowls, however, meat is just one of several ingredients - meaning profit margins are much higher.

In an earning call with analysts and investors last summer, CEO Sean Connolly even cited Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches as an example of how the company is managing cost pressures, noting that "only a fraction of the weight of the product is meat." Some Jimmy Dean sandwiches - including an egg white and spinach variety - don't have any meat at all, he has also noted.

Jimmy Dean's sales have grown over the years, boosted by the introduction of various breakfast bowls and sandwiches. Last year, sales of Jimmy Dean's frozen foods were $658.3 million, up 18 percent from 2011, according to market researcher Euromonitor International

Such products are also among the reasons Tyson Foods Inc. got into a bidding war to acquire Hillshire earlier this year, with the meat giant beating out Pilgrim's Pride with a $7.75 billion offer. Tyson, based in Springdale, Arkansas, already makes some convenience foods, but its primary business has traditionally been the less-profitable fresh meat sold in supermarkets, and supplying restaurants and other food sellers. Tyson's acquisition of Hillshire is expected to close by late September.

As for the new Jimmy Dean sandwiches and bowls that started hitting shelves earlier this month, Hillshire is hoping they can tap into Americans' changing eating habits. Eric Schwartz, general manager of the Jimmy Dean unit, said in a phone interview that the products are designed to cater to the trend of snacking or eating several smaller meals throughout the day.

"Even entrees today are used as between-meal snacks," he said.

Nutritional content for the new bowls and sandwiches ranges from about 300 to 500 calories for the regular items. For the "Delights" line, the products are 300 calories or less.

As for whether Jimmy Dean has anything like the pancake-and-sausage on a stick planned for the lunch and dinner crowd, the company declined to say.

"We're really focused on the launch of these 16 new items," said Karmen Conrad, director of brand marketing for Jimmy Dean.

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clwgeorgetownlaw July 29 2014 at 12:45 PM

Who even eats that poison any longer? I have seen store clerks pull hundreds of those breakfast sausage rolls off of the shelf -- all expired. They must be gaming the books to show a profit because there is no way.....

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1 reply
bdgrizcp clwgeorgetownlaw July 29 2014 at 4:47 PM

Me. I like the sausage mostly--I make my own breakfast bowls/

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ga7smi July 29 2014 at 12:54 PM

some of the worst "food" I have ever tasted - Johnsonville Brats are in the same league

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1 reply
cragpretzel ga7smi July 29 2014 at 5:17 PM

Exactly! I tried eating a lot of things like that because they sound so good in commercials. In reality they are mostly pieces of gristle and bone that turns my stomach.

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jjudy060 July 29 2014 at 2:23 PM

Thats the worst sausage ever.

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2 replies
samwise246 jjudy060 July 29 2014 at 3:41 PM

No, it's not.

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cragpretzel jjudy060 July 29 2014 at 5:18 PM

Garbage.

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e08a13 July 29 2014 at 2:13 PM

Jimmy Dean makes the best precooked bacon. Highly underrated. Far better than Oscar Mayer.

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Pllc15 July 29 2014 at 12:54 PM

You wouldn't associate pork sausages with Jimmy Dean but after a time you do and today forgot that he was a C&W singer at one time. Great products.

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elysianfields08 July 29 2014 at 2:10 PM

Rest In Peace Jimmy . Pretty decent country singer . Even had his own show for a while

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pj512 July 29 2014 at 2:54 PM

I'm not crazy about his products, but there are apparently plenty of people who are. My belief is this - you live only once. If you deprive yourself of everything you like, even if it's bad for you, you will not have a fulfilling life. I would rather die at 80 and have enjoyed my life than to live to 90 and have deprived myself of everything.

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1 reply
kate pj512 July 29 2014 at 6:30 PM

Actually, it's more like you could eat whatever you want and be in poor health from 65-80 years old, then, after 5 years in a nursing home, die.

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hattie54 July 29 2014 at 2:38 PM

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=53658263

He grew up very poor but made something of himself!!

Dean died Sunday at his home in Varina, Va., and that's where he will be laid to rest in the $350,000, 9-1/2-foot long, granite piano mausoleum overlooking the James River. On the piano, which he and his wife bought years ago, will be inscribed: "Here lies one hell of a man."

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1 reply
Van hattie54 July 29 2014 at 3:10 PM

Dean has been dead for years.

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tsr5112 July 29 2014 at 2:45 PM

He's dead. He ain't moving anywhere.

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samwise246 July 29 2014 at 3:41 PM

I wish they would go back to a POUND of sausage instead of the 12 ounces they package now.

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