Frieda's Predicts Produce Must-Haves for 2018
- by Jordan Okumura
LOS ALAMITOS, CA – New year, new you! And with new beginnings on the brain, supermarket shoppers will be on the hunt for new produce flavors and food experiences in 2018. With brick-and-mortar retailers in mind, Frieda’s Specialty Produce named five produce aisle items that will take consumers taste buds on a flavor journey no online shop can offer.
With the right mix of items, produce departments can add value and attract customers, and for the upcoming year, Frieda’s recommends these five must-haves:
“I believe 2018 will be the year of jicama,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s, who noted in a press release that more retailers are offering fresh-cut jicama sticks than ever before. “It has only taken 45 years for jicama to become a household name since Frieda’s introduced it to produce retailers in 1972!”
Predicting growth in the super-foods category thanks to its excellent nutritional value, jicama has a high level of vitamin C and gut-friendly properties. The natural sugars and fiber in jicama are considered a prebiotic for the digestive tract, meaning it helps create the right environment for good bacteria (probiotics) to flourish in the gut.
Along with Frieda’s, San Francisco-based food development firm Mattson identified healing foods as a trend from the 2017 Natural Products Expo East, and Whole Foods 2018 trend report named shaved jicama as a vegetable alternative to grain-based taco shells.
“With all the research and development in the field of the gut microbiome, I believe that produce like jicama and Sunchokes® will continue to be in high demand for 2018 and beyond,” Caplan added.
Now available in a rainbow of colors, dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is finally catching mainstream U.S. consumers’ attention with rising popularity in flavor and fragrance marketing, frozen in smoothies, and now fresh in supermarkets in various skin colors, varieties, and internal flesh colors.
“With several 2018 food trend forecasts pointing to Instagram-ready colorful cuisine and upscale non-alcoholic cocktails, the vibrant magenta-colored dragon fruit is poised for a big year,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, Senior Account Manager at Frieda’s.
As demands rise, multiple countries are supplying the U.S. marketplace with the newly popularized fruit, including Israel and its unique desert-grown type with a pine cone-like shape and high flavor; Nicaragua’s rounder-shaped, deeply pigmented, red-flesh variety; and Vietnam’s large white-flesh variety with high visual appeal and long brachs (leaves).
While, the mother of all tropical fruits has attracted quite a fan base over the past two years, thanks in part to its use as a meat texture substitute when it’s unripe and green that is similar to pulled pork, Frieda’s “trendologists” believe the sweet, complex flavor of the ripe jackfruit has yet to be discovered by the masses.
“Ripe jackfruit is enjoyed in Asia as a snack or dessert. It has a delicious sweetness reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum,” said Berkley. “In 2018 we expect to see more savvy retailers offering ripe jackfruit sections, overwrapped, in their fresh-cut coolers. We also discovered that the jackfruit’s large seeds are edible when cooked, and may be ground into a flour to use in baking,” Berkley added.
The exploration of the use of jackfruit seeds also aligns with two emerging food trends: alternative flour sources and root-to-stem cooking.
Purple and More
The natural purple pigment found in produce like Frieda’s Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato and concord grapes, known as anthocyanins, is on the rise as the health benefits become more known.
“Whole Foods called the purple food trend in 2017, but Frieda’s has been promoting the purple produce movement since 2012, and we believe it’s still trending up,” Berkley said.
The Packaged Facts 2018 food trends forecast also claims, “Color is the new sugar,” pointing to naturally vibrant, eye candy foods like beets to make a spot for themselves in consumers’ shopping carts. In addition, Packaged Facts identifies sweet potato as a 2018 culinary star and another way to add color to vegetarian and vegan plates.
Frieda’s also predicts that fresh cut food processors will be adding more purple-hued produce to veggie noodle product lines in 2018.
Also riding the trend train for 2018, turmeric has caught on with early adopters for its anti-inflammatory health benefits. With the increase in supply to the U.S. market from growers in Jamaica and Fiji, more supermarkets are stocking this healing root.
“We continue to see fresh turmeric as an ingredient in fresh-pressed juices and smoothies, and even lattes,” Berkley said, noting that roots like fresh turmeric and ginger have been prized for centuries for their medicinal properties. “With the rise in the #selfcare movement, this buzzword often equates to people turning to natural remedies and fresh whole foods.”
Trendy or not, these produce must-haves are sure to brighten up 2018 and can mix up retailer’s produce aisles with unique and refreshing ideas. For more trends and expectations in the produce industry, keep checking back with AndNowUKnow.