Nestlé’s Hot Pockets brand enters portable sandwich market

Dive Brief:

  • Nestlé’s Hot Pockets brand is introducing Deliwich, its first sandwich that doesn’t need to be prepared in a microwave, the company said in a statement. The product will be sold at select retailers nationwide starting in late May.

  • The offering contains deli meat and cheese wrapped in a soft roll that is designed to be taken on-the-go frozen and ready to eat fresh by lunchtime. It will be sold in four varieties: Cheddar & Ham, Turkey & Colby, Cheese Melt, and Pepperoni & Mozzarella.

  • The debut of the Deliwich comes as more people leave home and look for portable options they can take to places such as work and school.

Dive Insight:

Nestlé has spent much of the past few years overhauling its portfolio, offloading its slower-growing ice cream, confections and much of its bottled water businesses in the U.S. In its place, the Switzerland-based food giant has spent billions to purchase better-for-you companies, including specialty and ready-to-drink coffee makers, a fresh-prepared meal delivery service and several personal health and nutrition businesses.

But one constant has been its frozen meals segment that includes household staples such as Hot Pockets, Stouffer’s, Lean Cuisine and DiGiorno. In rolling out Deliwich, Nestlé is tapping into the widespread recognition of the Hot Pockets brand, a popular lunch option that saw sales surge during the pandemic. According to data tabulated by Statista, 11.27 million Americans consumed five packs or more of Hot Pockets in 2020.

Hot Pockets, however, come frozen and require a microwave to heat up before they can be consumed. In creating Deliwich, Nestlé is tapping into another way to meet the consumer wherever they are, from camping to the office, which could make the sandwich an enticing option for more people given its versatility. Nestlé also promotes the convenience of Deliwich, noting it has no clean-up required.

Gone are the days of stale and soggy sandwiches,” a press release introducing the sandwich says. “Deliwich delivers a fresh, delicious experience that’s ready to enjoy by lunchtime — simply thaw from frozen for 2 – 4 hours.”

While Nestlé’s track record and position as the world’s largest food company can’t be discounted, it will be going up against similar offerings already on the market like the hugely popular Uncrustables, manufactured by J.M. Smucker.

Uncrustables’ roots are based in peanut butter and jelly. But the company has expanded the frozen sandwich into pizza-like snacks containing sauce, pepperoni and cheese. It also has Sandwich Roll-ups in Turkey and Colby Jack Cheese and Uncured Ham and Cheddar Cheese varieties, as well as Taco Bites and BBQ Chicken Bites.

The stuffed Uncrustables has grown into a household name for Smucker, with roughly $500 million in annual sales. Last November, the Ohio company said it would invest $1.1 billion to build a new manufacturing facility and distribution center in Alabama to produce the product — placing it in direct competition to the Deliwich.

Several of the Uncrustables need to be heated, but the Uncured Ham and Cheddar Cheese Roll-Ups as well as the Turkey and Colby Jack Roll-Ups simply need to be thawed before they are eaten.