What happened to Healthy Choice lunch meats?

For years Healthy Choice (ConAgra) turkey breast and turkey ham slices in the green boxes have been a staple of my mid-day meal. A couple of months ago, my supermarket replaced them with Healthy Ones (Armour-Eckrich) in a yellow box. And now Healthy Ones are being discontinued.

Surely, the demand for low-fat sandwich slices hasn’t gone away. What happened to Healthy Choice lunch meats? I note that they still produce other Healthy Choice items, particularly microwaveable dinners.

They’re still being sold at my supermarket – both ham and turkey.

I’m not sure, but I do know a little bit about the companies involved.

Eckrich started way back when (round the beginning of the 20th century) as its own company and existed as a wholesaler of meats for about 70 years before being bought by Beatrice Foods in the 1970s. Beatrice combined Eckrich with the “Smith & Sons” brand.

Armour had a similar history, eventually being bought by ConAgra in the 1980s.

In the early 1990s ConAgra bought Swift-Eckrich and combined it with its Armour brand. From that point ConAgra operated a food service business branded as Armour Swift Eckrich, this direct-to-store operation was responsible for a lot of the Armour Swift-Eckrich products that end up in supermarkets (the larger big box stores like Wal-Mart and large supermarket chains like Kroger tended to get their Armour Swift-Eckrich products through direct deliveries from warehouses.)

In 2006, ConAgra wanted out of the direct-to-store business line and divested itself of that aspect of its business, selling it to Smithfield Foods which has since relabeled that business “Armour-Eckrich LLC” (Swift wasn’t part of the deal, thus it isn’t included in the new entity’s branding.) However, Healthy Choice, which had been delivered by the Armour Swift-Eckrich entity was a ConAgra brand and ConAgra held on to it instead of selling it to Smithfield Foods. So many stores which were serviced by Armour Swift-Eckrich may no longer have a regular supplier of Healthy Choice products (Healthy Ones was created so that the new Armour Eckrich LLC had a replacement product to deliver to stores since they didn’t get to continue carrying Healthy Choice after the sale.)

Generally store managers will stop stocking products that don’t sell, Healthy Ones still exists, but it doesn’t have near the brand recognition that Healthy Choice had so its in store sales may have been low enough that many supermarkets have dropped it. In a lot of areas if a store were to do this they wouldn’t have the option of replacing it with Healthy Choice, because ConAgra doesn’t do direct store servicing anymore so Healthy Choice is only available to stores which receive direct warehouse shipments from ConAgra (generally these are only larger stores like Wal-Mart’s, Kroger’s and et cetera.)