There’s a whole lot to love about fresh produce, and the adoration continues in 2018. Consumers are clamoring to learn more about fruits and vegetables and the many ways they can be prepared and enjoyed. Online searches for produce have more than tripled over the last 10 years. Most notably, searches for vegetables have increased 114% in the last decade.
And it makes sense: U.S. consumers remain focused on health and wellness, and fresh fruits and vegetables play a major role in supporting the healthy lifestyles they aim for. Consumers are also constantly seeking out new flavors, and fresh produce provides a bounty of opportunities for culinary creativity. It’s no surprise, then, that produce items have been consistent fixtures in the food trends that sweep the nation each year.
5 produce trends to watch in 2018
Let’s take a look at the top five produce trends to watch as 2018 unfolds.
1. Vegetable-centric cuisine
Whether they do it for health reasons or personal eating philosophies, convenience or budget, many consumers are looking for ways to incorporate more vegetables into their meals or turning to plant-based diets. They’re substituting traditional center plate items for vegetables—replacing meat with vegetables, like Buffalo cauliflower or jackfruit tacos—or making produce the star of the dish, rather than a supporting character.
2. Colorful consumption
Nutritionists have been telling us to eat a rainbow of fresh produce for years, and consumers are picking up on just how great that advice is—whether it’s for the health benefits or the wow factor. Vibrantly colored vegetables—like purple cauliflower, purple sweet potatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts—are anticipated to be popular picks as consumers shop for pops of color.
3. Herb appeal
As consumers experiment with a wider variety of vegetables, they’re using more herbs to try out new and varied flavor profiles. Fresh herbs are an easy way for consumers and chefs alike to use and transform produce items in seemingly infinite ways. Some exotic and uncommon herbs are growing by leaps and bounds: online searches for lemongrass, for example, have gone up by 40% in the last five years and 194% in the last 10. Herbs and fresh produce work hand-in hand to replicate the flavors of regional cuisines.
4. Peruvian cuisine
Peruvian cuisine has great potential to influence produce sales over the next year and beyond. For one, Peruvian restaurants have been increasingly popping up across the United States over the last few years. Secondly, online searches for Peruvian cuisine have grown by 64% since 2014. Finally, the aji amarillo chili pepper—which is grown all over Peru and a core item in the country’s cuisine—is also gaining popularity. The spicy, fruity, golden-colored pepper is a frequent and hallmark ingredient that’s paired with garlic and red onion in a number of classic Peruvian dishes and sauces. Other chili peppers, like poblanos and habaneros, are also trending, with 8.15% and 10.98% three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR), respectively.
5. Broth-based entrées
Broths—savory liquids made when bones, meats, fish, or vegetables are simmered in water for several hours—have been a part of global cuisines for centuries. But recently, broths have reemerged with a fresh reputation: a versatile, flavorful, nutrient-rich base for a variety of entrées, from soups to noodle dishes and beyond. Online searches for broth are up 75% in the last decade, with vegetable-based broth searches up 85% in the same time span. Broth-based entrées deliver deeply developed flavors, and consumers are experimenting with the many flavor profiles they can infuse into broths. For example, limes and tomatoes are often paired together to give broths a unique tang and fulfilling heartiness.
Some food trends are fleeting, but others stick around for the long haul. Whether these five produce trends eventually fizzle or become fixtures, your store shelves will be impacted. As long as consumers continue exploring new flavors and seeking out healthy foods, fresh perimeters in retail grocery will keep expanding, and new varieties and items will continue entering the mainstream.
To stay on top of produce trends and other consumer insights—and to make sure your business is set up for success—connect with one of our fresh experts.