‘Garden produce’ drives innovation in retail, says Packaged Facts

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
Specialty greens in the pre-packaged salad section and a touch of mint in savory snacks, entrees, and desserts are some trends noted by the latest Packaged Facts Culinary Trend Tracking Series report.

“More than non-GMO, more than local, organic, or natural, more even than low price, consumers value freshness in food—and nothing says freshness like garden-fresh vegetables or fruit,”​ said market research publisher Packaged Facts in its brand new report, Garden and Grove: Culinary Trend Tracking Series (CuTTS)​.

This report profiles six essential ‘garden and grove food trends’ that are driving innovation in restaurants and retail:  Celery and fennel; fresh mint; radishes; specialty salad greens; shishito, Peppadew, and ghost peppers as emerging hot peppers; and cocktail bar fruit.

We’ve selected the four trends most relevant to packaged food and beverage:

Celery & Fennel​ – “Celery and fennel each offer multiple opportunities in both restaurants and retail because of their versatility and the ability to use all parts of the plants in various ways. Treating both vegetables as value-added products in grocery stores by displaying all the various parts together — bulb, root, stem, leaves, even seeds and pollen—draws and educates shoppers eager for new kitchen adventures,”​ the report said.

The flavor combination is found in many jerky products​, such as DiMario’s ‘Garlic and Fennel’​ and Country Archer’s ‘Cayenne Beef with Pork Bar.’​ Moreover, many cured meat brands are opting to use and display the preservative celery powder​ instead of nitrates and nitrites on their ingredients list to cater to clean label-conscious consumers.

Fresh Mint​ – “With mint part of the arsenal of so many different on-trend cuisines—from Vietnamese to Mediterranean to Mexican—it’s not surprising that chains are starting to pick up the trend, using mint as a kind of shorthand for authenticity.”

Chocolate mint, a traditional flavour for ice cream and chocolate bars, has also been an emerging flavor in nutrition bars, from RXBAR​ to FitJoy​.

Specialty Greens​ – “The world of specialty salad greens—including not only lettuces but also herbs such as sorrel and the many varieties of microgreens—is growing by leaps and bounds. Their availability is also growing at retail, particularly in the area of specialty mixes.”

This tidbit goes hand-in-hand the overall growth of packaged salads, which is driven by the salad kit category with 31% year-over-year growth last spring​, according to Nielsen data. Inclusion of kale, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens other than lettuce in bags of salad are ways “the category continues to recreate itself to be relevant to consumers,” ​Nielsen director of fresh Jen Campuzano told FoodNavigator-USA in an interview last month about the salad category​.

Emerging Specialty Peppers​ – “[As] consumer interest in [diverse regional] foods and hot, spicy flavors continues to grow, lesser-known peppers are moving into the mainstream. Three of these newly ‘hot’ hot pepper varieties are shishito, Peppadew, and ghost pepper or bhut jolokia.”

Trend forecasters have gathered that the heat and spicy tolerance of the general North American consumer is up​. The picante tinge has penetrated even the chilled dairy category with Noosa’s sweet and spicy yogurt options​, and entrepreneurs are taking a chance with introducing the North African harissa as America’s potential new Sriracha​.

For the emerging home-cook consumer, packaged spice brands such as McCormick​ or Urban Accents​ are releasing increasingly daring combinations that are new to most US consumers.

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