BALTIMORE — You may expect to find gochujang cauliflower with Brussels sprouts and peri peri portobellos with turmeric farro on a restaurant menu — not in your supermarket freezer case. But that is precisely the point of Wildscape, part of a new venture backed by Nestle USA that seeks to thaw negative consumer perceptions of frozen foods.
Featured at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Wildscape is part of Foundry Foods Inc., an innovation hub established by Nestle, that "allows food entrepreneurs to create new and unique food products and make them more widely available to consumers," said Emily Hoffman, co-founder and marketing manager of Wildscape.
"One of the biggest challenges in creating Wildscape was knowing when to trust what we already knew about frozen meals and when to question it — especially since we created it in just nine months," Ms. Hoffman told Food Business News. "There’s a lot of unwritten rules about the category that pretty much all other meals play by, like what sort of recipes you can make, what people expect from frozen, etc. With Wildscape, we wanted to challenge these norms.
"People expect and can get high quality, healthy, delicious and convenient meals from any number of places outside of the frozen category. We believed we could elevate what people can expect within frozen as well. So we brought a sense of purpose to every decision, with the goal of making every part of the experience intuitively feel good — and, ultimately, we were able to deliver something that is new and innovative."
Available in six chef-developed varieties, Wildscape meals are packaged in opaque bowls — "no box, no tray, no pictures — just vibrant, delicious food that speaks for itself," Ms. Hoffman said. Whole grains, such as sorghum, freekeh and farro, are paired with vegetables and flavorful sauces including aji amarillo and avocado mojo verde. Several recipes include meat, such as bourbon braised pork, chimichurri chicken and braised brisket.
"Working within Foundry Foods, we were given the opportunity to spin off from previous roles and responsibilities in order to focus on founding a new brand, even going so far as to have an off-site office to work from," Ms. Hoffman explained. "Our team had full autonomy to develop our recipes, packaging, brand names and more. But of course, having the knowledge, skills and resources of Nestle has been a huge asset to our work and a significant enabler of the speed we’ve been able to move at."
The products are available at select retailers with national distribution planned this fall. Ms. Hoffman said additional recipes are being developed, but for now the team is focused on distributing and marketing the initial set of products.
"At its core, Wildscape is all about celebrating how amazing nature can be and how great it feels," she said. "So, really, the opportunities to tap into that are endless."