A young Ithaca company, Grainful, is carving out space in the crowded read-to-eat frozen dinner market.
The company has eight varieties available right now and plans to add four more by 2019.
The key to the meals is the use of fittingly, grains, especially whole cut oats normally thought of for the breakfast table.
Grainful Co-Founder and President Jan Pajerski, says, “The first ah-ha moment was ‘hey, why don’t we use this grain that is ubiquitous in North America and make it for dinner.'”
Grainful’s ‘Unstuffed Pepper’ lays a combination of whole cut oats, quinoa, and sorghum over a sauce including their own turkey sausage, sliced garlic and Italian spices. On top
“So for our unstuffed pepper, we top it off with some red and green bell peppers and some parmesan cheese,” Grainful Co-Founder and Chief Food Officer Jeannine Sacco tells NewsChannel 9.
The co-founders say any dish they create has to be healthy, great tasting and convenient.
“All you have to do is microwave it, but you don’t have to add anything else to it, its fully ready the way it goes.” Sacco says.
Pajerski says Grainful’s first big break came in 2014 when Wegmans brought them in.
“We were very fortunate as a brand in this space where we got one of the leading retailers in the country to take our products in and we’re still there and they’re one of our key customers and key pillars of the business right now,” he says.
Sacco adds, “Somebody will call me up in Virginia and say oh my god I just saw your products on the shelf at the store or take a picture and share it on social media and be like look what I found.”
“The possibilities are endless and really the end goal is to be a brand that is across the store that’s a national and international brand in multiple categories.” Pajerski tells NewsChannel 9.
“When you reach a certain goal you don’t sit and celebrate for hours and hours,it’s like okay what’s the next thing we’re going to do,” Sacco says.
Pajerski says they’re already thinking about the future of the company, “There’s unique business models and different concepts emerging in direct to consumer and with online and subscription models that we’re looking at and bringing to market as well.”
They say the company has been growing each year and expects this year to move into divisions of some key national retailers.