By Micah Cheek
The potato may be a bland vegetable, but new sizes and varieties are spicing up the spud sector. While russet and white potato sales are declining, sales of more varied sizes and types of potato are increasing. “There are a lot more SKUs of potatoes of potatoes being offered right now,” says Sarah Reece, Global Retail Marketing Manager for the United States Potato Board.
The greater variety in the potato market is in part due to the slump in traditional potato popularity. After briefly plateauing from 2010 to 2011, potato consumption has been on the decline, with the decline centered on russets. “They’re still a little over half of potato volume, but they continue to lose volume,” says Don Ladhoff, Director of Fresh Sales Marketing. “Other potatoes are growing and outperforming the category. Small potatoes are doing even better.”
Tiny tubers offer a certain novelty that appeals to more adventurous customers. “It’s something new to the category. It’s interesting and fun to take home to the family,” says Reece. According to a study by the United States Potato Board, an increase in the frequency of potato consumption has been driven by working parents and active seniors. These groups have also boosted sales of colored potatoes. “With the interest in premium varieties and smaller potatoes, we’ve been planting more of these red varietals,” says Leah Brakke, Director of Marketing for Black Gold Farms. Black Gold Farms has focused on red potatoes because of the consumer perception of red potatoes as a more valuable and healthy option.
Small spuds have proven effective for in-package cooking, including preseasoned roasting pans and microwavable bags for steaming. Roasting has become a more popular option for petite potato preparation both with and without value-added packaging. “Millenials are 30 percent more likely to prepare potatoes by roasting,” says Ladhoff.
The trend toward smaller sizes has extended past potatoes themselves. Smaller packaging sizes of potatoes have been selling better than the traditional five to 10 pound bags, reflecting a greater change in purchasing habits. “[Customers] are trying to shop for what they need. 51 percent of Millenial shoppers buy for one meal at a time. Smaller potatoes fit into that trend where I want to cook enough potatoes for one night,” says Ladhoff. “From what we hear from retailers, it’s less about portion control, and more about reducing waste.”
By Richard Thompson
Beets are getting a whole new look this year, emphasizing their nutritional benefits while being featured in products that appeals to shifting consumer tastes. Similar to the way kale appealed to consumers last year, beets are being marketed as the new super trendy vegetable, grabbing the attention of food retailers and restaurateurs who are selling more items with beets in them than in previous years. Beet products are becoming so popular that this year’s list of sofi Award finalists include two different beet products that were up for three different awards between them.
The past five years have seen beets become more common place as people are more educated about them, says Natasha Shapiro of LoveBeets, known for their popular beet-featured product lines. Adding to the 20 percent increase in distributorship they have seen in the last year is their variety of beet juices and line of beet bars. The Love Beets health bars are coming in Beet & Apple, Beet & Cherry and Beet & Blueberry with all three made gluten-free and with clean ingredients. “We are making beets more fun, accessible and upbeat,” said Shapiro, “We’re modernizing the idea of beets.”
Blue Hill Yogurt, whose Beet Yogurt is a sofi finalist, combined the earthy sweetness of beets with the acidic tangyness of yogurt for a natural and unique trend that could push people looking for something new in milk products. Amped with raspberries and vinegar to maximize the natural earthy sweetness of the beet, Blue Hill wants people to think outside of what is normally thought of with beets and yogurt. “This is a savory yogurt that offers some sweetness, but not fruit-like sweetness. It’s a great afternoon yogurt,” said David Barber, President of Blue Hill.
Beetroot Rasam Soup from Cafe Spices, another finalist for the sofi Award, is competing in two categories, New Products and as a Soup, Stew, Bean or Chili Product. The colorful soup that pairs roasted beets pureed into a tomato base with tamarind, garlic, chiles and mustard seeds is an inspiration from the company’s culinary director and chef Hari Nayak.
Featuring naturally occurring nitrates that help extend exercise performance, fitness communities have long embraced the healthy benefits of beets. Coupled with social media and a general health conscious mindset in consumers, appreciation of beets has spider-webbed through mainstream markets, according to Shapiro. “Its the one vegetable people feel strongly about, Shapiro said, “At events, people just want to share their experiences about beets.”
Adam Kaye, Vice President of Culinary Affairs for Blue Hill, who worked with Dan Barber on their sofi nominated Beet Yogurt, goes one step further. Kaye has seen the appreciation of beets growing beyond it being a fancy potato and finds the whole vegetable incredible. “There is something about the beet that straddles the savory and the sweet,” said Kaye, “You can taste the earth in beets.”
Sweet and spicy lovers take note: A delicious combination of roasted poblano peppers and peaches create unforgettable flavor in the latest spread from The Gracious Gourmet. Roasted Poblano Peach Spread is the most recent addition to the award-winning line of spreads, chutneys, pestos and tapenades. Taste it at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Roasted Poblano Peach Spread: The sweet flavor of luscious peaches is balanced with roasted poblano chile peppers and an accent of cilantro. This innovative and mildly spiced spread is sure to please a wide audience, especially when paired with cheese, or accompanying shellfish, chicken and pork. It can also be tossed in a salad with a lemon and oil dressing.
“Smoky and sweet flavors continue to rise among the latest food trends,” says Nancy Wekselbaum, founder of The Gracious Gourmet. “Roasted Poblano Peach Spread is a versatile condiment that can add excitement to a variety of meals. The spread isn’t hot in flavor, but does add a lot of spice and flavor to fish, pork or even a salad. I love to use it on a cheese plates with Spanish-style cheese like Manchego.”
Other New Products
Date Apricot Spread is packed with dates combined with apricots, spices and orange juice. It is great paired with cheeses like ricotta, fresh goat, brie and cheddar and is delicious served with chicken, duck or turkey and mixed into basmati rice. Also perfect for yogurt parfaits or as a topper for vanilla or caramel ice creams.
Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms contains white, crimini and shiitake mushrooms cooked with onions in olive oil and finished with a dash of lemon juice. It provides “essential” rich mushroom flavor to a variety of dishes, including risottos, pasta dishes, soups, omelets and savory pancakes.
Sweet Caramelized Onions includes the equivalent of 1 pound of raw sweet onions in every -ounce container. The fresh onions are cooked in olive oil with a hint of brown sugar to boost the onions’ natural sweetness — the taste is so good you can eat them straight from the jar! Use them to top all kinds of meat and fish as well as in salad dressings, soups, pasta and rice dishes.
The Gracious Gourmet’s all-natural products enliven countless menus with a wide variety of foodservice options for restaurateurs, chefs, cafes, caterers, event planners and wine bars. All three of the new products are available in 76-ounce foodservice containers. These affordable and time-saving accompaniments can be used for cheese plates, as sandwich spreads, in salad dressings and much more.