The cauliflower carb swapping trend is still going strong since recipes for cauliflower crust pizza started popping up on Pinterest feeds over five years ago. Trend tracking reports from Grub Hub, Nielsen, and FreshDirect have all listed cauliflower as one veggie that's gained a strong following.
Outer Aisle founder and CEO, Jeanne David, started the brand after serving as the executive director for the Arthritis Foundation while also working as personal trainer. She was inspired to start Outer Aisle after she and her husband eliminated bread and processed sugars as part of a doctor-directed diet.
The company launched cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower sandwich thins simultaneously roughly four years ago.
"It probably took us 75 iterations of the first recipe because we were committed to clean ingredients," David told FoodNavigator-USA at the Natural Products Expo West show last week.
The ingredient deck for the company's original sandwich thins include: fresh cauliflower, cage-free eggs, and pure nutritional yeast.
And while cauliflower pizza crusts seemed to be getting all the attention when the brand launched, it was offering a healthier bread alternative for consumers that David and her team was after.
"We missed that vehicle to put turkey and avocado on something or felt like you were eating a burger," she said.
As its name suggests, Outer Aisle products can be found in the perimeter of the store, in the refrigerated section near other fresh foods in order for customers to still feel the same convenience of picking up a loaf a bread from the bakers, explained David.
"We fought for that space," David said. "We didn’t believe of being lost in the freezer case. We also wanted the convenience it provides -- We want customers to be able to go to the store, pick up a pack of our sandwich thins, and eat it right then; you don’t have thaw it out."
Playing into larger 'low-glycemic' trend
The uptake of a product that bills itself as a 'bread-like' substitute has been strong as many consumers, especially those just entering their 50s and 70s, have had to readjust their diets after years of pursuing the low-fat craze that was so prevalent in the 80s and 90s, according to David.
This has ended up doing more harm than good because of the higher intake of processed sugars and empty carbs that can contribute to inflammatory diseases such as diabetes.
"That to us is the tsunami off the shore," she said.
Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) may be living longer than generations before but they're not living any healthier, some research indicates. A study from 2016 found that older adults ages 51 to 61 had a higher prevalence of six out of eight chronic health conditions—including 37% higher diabetes prevalence—in 2004-2010 than their peers in 1992-1998.
However, there has been a collective shift in consumers paying closer attention to ingredients and healthy eating more recently. According the International Food Information Council (IFIC) 2018 food & health survey, 52% Of those age 50-64 and 47% of those age 65+ followed a new eating pattern in an effort to protect long-term health.
"We believe low-glycemic is the bigger trend out there -- keto [and paleo] is thank goodness helping us in that regard but we believe this it the overarching trend that’s here to say," said David.
This year is a year of tremendous growth and innovation
At the Natural Products Expo West Show, the brand debuted its three new ready-to-eat product extensions: a jalapeno flavor available in the sandwich thins and pizza crust and an Italian flavor for the sandwich thins.
Outer Aisle products are available at several independent natural and specialty grocers across the US including Wegmans in the Northeast. To support its national (May 1st) and global launch with Whole Foods in the coming months, the company will be operating production out a new 37,000-square-foot dedicated product facility (its current facility it around 5,000 square feet).
"All of last year, we grew at such a rapid pace within our distribution channel that we were not able to open new doors and keep up with velocity within our own stores," David said.
"This year is a year of tremendous growth and innovation for us," David said, adding that the company is looking to expand into other low-carb, grain-free bases outside of cauliflower later this year.