SMITHFIELD, Va. - Smithfield Packing Co. is entering the nearly $1 billion refrigerated entree category, bringing healthy, high-quality products to the growing Heat & Serve category and implementing the first steps of an aggressive branding strategy. The four fully cooked, refrigerated Smithfield Lean Generation Entrees include two pork and two beef items—the beef entrees signaling another first for the world's largest vertically integrated pork processor.

"For years we have been building a strong base with our Lean Generation brand, perhaps the leanest, most consistent pork products available," says Jim Schloss, vice president of sales and marketing for Smithfield Packing Co. "We are now ready to expand our value-added, branded products."

Expanding the Smithfield Lean Generation name to beef comes after parent company Smithfield Foods' recent acquisitions of American Foods, Moyer Packing Co., Packerland Holdings and RMH Foods, making it the fourth largest beef processor in the country. "Moving into beef products complements our established line of pork products and helps us become a more complete source of high-quality meat," says Schloss. "Growing the Lean Generation name generates further brand identity and will expand our base of loyal customers."

With the introduction of the four new refrigerated entrees, Smithfield continues to address the needs of consumers who have less and less time for meal preparation but who want delicious, healthy dinners. "Product innovation is imperative in this category in order to meet the growing demands of health-conscious, time-starved consumers," says Eric Esch, director of marketing for Smithfield Packing Co.

"The refrigerated Smithfield Lean Generation Entrees give consumers healthy, tasty meal solutions that are as convenient to prepare as they are delicious."

The growth of the heat and serve category also helps grocery stores establish themselves as quick-meal providers, effectively competing with fast-food restaurants and take-out establishments. The four entrees—Pork Roast with Gravy, Beef Pot Roast with Gravy, Beef Tips with Gravy and Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce—are all at least 90 percent lean and cook in approximately five minutes.

"Due to daily time constraints, an incredible number of people rely on take-out foods that are not as tasty and nutritious as they would like," says Esch. The addition of these products helps grocery stores increase share of stomach, taking sales from other convenience sources."

A substantial marketing and promotional plan to build consumer awareness and fortify consumer relationships will back the introduction of these innovative products. The programs include in-store merchandising, coupons, product demonstrations and retailer co-op promotions. The introduction will also be supported with a public relations campaign and a toll-free consumer hotline (1-800-799-LEAN) where consumers can call to learn more about Smithfield Lean Generation, including serving suggestions, recipes and nutritional information.

"Our new products meet the highest standards of the Smithfield Lean Generation name," says Schloss. "Shoppers know Smithfield Lean Generation means leaner, meatier and delicious every time. We believe these products are the best quality available."

Smithfield Packing Company Inc., a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD), maintains its headquarters in Smithfield, Va., and is recognized as the largest vertically integrated pork processor in the world. The company produces and markets fresh pork and processed meats under a number of brands, including Smithfield Lean Generation Pork, Smithfield Premium and Smithfield Tender 'n Easy.