Sixty years ago, John Tyson loaded chickens into his battered truck and hauled them from Arkansas to the more lucrative poultry markets in Chicago. From that inauspicious start of foresight, Tyson has grown to become the world's largest supplier of chicken and has literally written the book on maximizing choice and convenience in protein products.

This month, the BEEF Taste Test panel tested one of Tyson Foods' Meal Kit offerings — Tyson Beef Fajitas. Beef Fajitas is one (and the only beef product) in a line of seven Tyson Meal Kits (the other six are chicken, of course). Beef Fajitas is a frozen, 1½-lb., two-serving package priced at $6.29 in a Minneapolis, MN, Rainbow Foods store. The package includes three individual pouches of fajita vegetables, seven flour tortillas and seasoned beef strips.

The panel agreed that Tyson is tough to beat in convenience. But at least on this product, there's room for improvement in the sensory categories of visual presentation, flavor, tenderness, texture and juiciness. The panel's overall score of 7.95 (on a 10-point scale) ranks the product midway down in the bottom half of scores for the 26 convenience products tested thus far in our series.

The product's highest scores came in the packaging and convenience areas, in which the product rated no lower than a 4.1 (on a 5-point scale). Its lowest scores came in the sensory area. The highest sensory score was a 4 in tenderness, with the scores for visual presentation, flavor, texture and juiciness all being rated from 3.6 to 3.9 (see chart).

Those results were borne out in panelist comments: “This is easy to fix, and it's convenient,” said one panelist. “I'd buy it again. It's got good flavor, though some of the beef is a little chewy,” added another.

But at least half of the panel felt the onions were overpowering in the product. “Just too many vegetables, especially onions,” said one.

A couple of panelists felt the actual product didn't measure up to the image on the package. One said: “The package shows sliced onions, but the onions in the product are chopped. I like sliced onions.”

In a comment that possibly speaks to Tyson's talent at developing convenience food items and/or the lagging state of convenient food item development in the beef area (compared to chicken and pork), one panelist said: “This Tyson product is one of the original convenience items in the beef area. It has stood the test of time.”