Kraft product nibbling at Hamburger Helper market share

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Dec 29, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: The dry dinner mix market doesn’t sound very appetizing. But these mixes meet a big demand for quick, easy food for frugal, time-challenged folks. For years, Betty Crocker’s Hamburger Helper dominated that market, but a new product from Kraft has recently started nibbling away.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Kraft’s new Velveeta Cheesy Skillet mixes target sleep-deprived moms like me.

Ads for the mixes feature a hunk dressed up as a blacksmith who lands in your kitchen, puts his arms around you, and helps you mix up dinner.

Ad: Just brown the meat, stir in the noodles, seasoning.Then smite them, smite them with the liquid gold until there can be no more smiting.

That ‘liquid gold,’ of course, is Velveeta cheese. Hamburger Helper uses dried cheese. That difference has taken a meaty chunk out of Hamburger Helper’s market share.

Consumer Economist Sara Johnson of IHS Global Insight says this is a crafty move, because demand for dry dinner mixes is rising in the down economy — more people are eating in.

Sara Johnson: They’re perhaps looking for new products to substitute for the restaurant experience. And this perhaps fits the bill.

It seemed like a possibility for this mom, util I realized how much salt and fat my kids would get from Cheesy Skillets. So it’s bye-bye blacksmith… back to boring old fruits and veggies.

I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.