If our six-member BEEF Taste Test panel is any indication, it appears that Farmland® has a winner in its three-product line of Ground & Browned Fully Cooked Ground Seasoned Beef products.

In fact, the panel rated one of the three Farmland products — Original — a 9.1 overall (10-point scale). That score makes it the top-performing product of the 17 convenience beef items the panel has critiqued thus far. The previous champ was Bubba burger with Vidalia® Onion, which rated a 9 in our May issue (page 32).

The Farmland Ground & Browned line consists of 12-oz., easy-open, resealable packages of fully-cooked, seasoned ground beef that can be added to various recipes. Selling for a suggested retail price of $3.49, the product is available in Original, Mexican Style and Italian Style flavors in the meat case section.

Panelists clearly preferred the Original product to its Italian and Mexican flavor counterparts, which rated overall scores of 8 and 8.4, respectively. The lower scores of the ethnic flavors point out the difficulty in marketing to narrow tastes. Among the panelists, for instance, some liked the spice level of the Mexican and Italian products while others wanted more spice or less spice.

But, the Original product was a total hit. “Wow. I'm impressed!” “A definite winner. Way beyond my expectations!” and “I would definitely buy this product again and often.” were among the panelists' comments.

While panelists clearly preferred the Original-flavored product, the three products drew relatively consistent scores across the individual categories of packaging, convenience and sensory factors. Panelists also lauded the easy preparation instructions on the package and the inclusion of “quick meal ideas” on each package.

Panelists did, however, criticize the quality of the package photo of the Original product, which they felt was inferior to product photos on the Mexican and Italian packages. In addition, panelists criticized the vagueness of the cooking times listed on the packages. Microwave times turned out to be double the 90 seconds listed on the packages.

Overall, however, the BEEF Taste Test panel decided that Farmland, particularly with the Original flavor product, has definitely hit the bull's-eye on what a convenience beef product should be.

Original Recipe

Profiles for Original and Italian are similar. Mexican product, however, has 35 mg. cholesterol, 370 mg. sodium, 2 g. carbohydrates and 13 g. protein; also, 2% calcium and 15% iron.

Farmland Original Recipe 12-oz. package

Does the package clearly identify the entree? 4.1 Packaging 0-5 point scale
Complete preparation instructions 4.7
Nutrition information 4.9
Easy to prepare 4.8 Convenience 0-5 point scale
Preparation time 4.6
Serving size 3.8
Does it visually present well? 4.7 Sensory Factors 0-5 point scale
Flavor 4.6
Tenderness 4.5
Palatability 4.4
Is it juicy? 4.6
Overall value 10-point scale 9.1