Call it a pickling renaissance. The tried-and-true food preservation method is back in the spotlight as shoppers connect pickled foods with digestive health and a way to enjoy seasonal produce throughout the year.
Sales of shelf-stable pickled and marinated vegetables increased 11 percent in the natural channel in 2011, while refrigerated options grew an impressive 30 percent, reports Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS. In addition to classic cucumbers and green beans, more exotic pickled options like beets, spiced napa cabbage and even raisins are making their way into shoppers’ carts. “We’re calling it the ‘kimchi effect,’” says Kathryn Peters, executive vice president of business development at SPINS, referring to the pickled cabbage’s surging popularity. “Consumers are loving the Asian flavor influences and unexpected produce options now available in pickled form.”
Products that play up homegrown flavors, such as Rick’s Picks spiced Phat Beets, are also striking a chord with consumers. In addition to exciting new and familiar tastes, Dr. Oz may be to thank for a portion of this category’s boom.