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Natural Foods Merchandiser

The fermented frontier: One store’s foray into a new food trend

The fermented frontier: One store’s foray into a new food trend
How Pilgrim's Market is turning a trend into a product line.

Intrigued by the probiotic content and other health benefits of fermented foods, Pilgrim’s Market owner Joe Hamilton recently decided to start fermenting and selling his own offerings in his Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, store.

“Fermented foods represent an important category that’s growing in the industry because of their tremendous health benefits and amazing flavors,” he said. “When you start comparing the trillions of bacteria you get in fermented foods with the number of probiotics you get in a capsule or yogurt, it’s amazing. The benefits of raw, fermented foods are off the charts.”

So he started with sauerkraut, which “is pretty easy to do,” he pointed out, “since it ferments at room temperature.” Before long, he added Fire Cider to the lineup, which is apple cider vinegar infused with tonic herbs for one to two months. Pilgrim’s Market staff make the products in store “for the same reasons we make our own juices and bake our own breads,” Hamilton said. “Because it’s fresher.”

The products are packaged in mason jars and sell out consistently during the store’s once-per-week demos. “We also have a recycling program, so people can bring back the empty mason jars and get credit,” Hamilton added. “So by recycling them and using glass, it’s better for the environment. And by making the products in house, it’s a smaller carbon footprint.”

Up next? A fermented cranberry sauce, on deck for Thanksgiving, which Hamilton expects will also be a big hit with shoppers looking to add a healthy dose of nutrients to their holiday tables.

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