The demand for cauliflower-based foods such as pizza crusts, “chicken wings,” rice and tater tots is skyrocketing as consumers continue to prefer low-calorie, all natural foods. This cream-colored vegetable is no longer the bland-tasting broccoli look-alike it was ten years ago according to the USDA, as new cauliflower based culinary innovations take center-stage in the health food industry bringing the per capita consumption of this vegetable up 38 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.
This trend may come as a surprise to some food companies who noted its stagnant 8 percent annual dollar sales growth between 2011 and 2016. The rise in popularity of this vegetable comes as cauliflower applications expand into the comfort food category. Products like cauliflower crust pizza, buffalo cauliflower wings and grated cauliflower rice have caught the interest of consumers as they continue to lower their carbohydrate intake.
Cauliflower rice, in particular, has seen a 60 percent increase in American Google search queries in 2017. Following this trend, many major food companies have started to roll out their own cauliflower rice products. Companies such as Green Giant, Whole Foods, Eat Smart and Trader Joes have already found success with their cauliflower rice products. In fact, Trader Joes had to put a purchasing limit on the cauliflower rice products sold in their stores soon after they were launched.
Cauliflower based pizza crusts are also finding success in the market. Since Los Angeles-based company, Caulipower, debuted their cauliflower crust pizzas at the Natural Product Expo West, their unique cauliflower pizzas have been distributed in almost 9,000 stores. The company also recently released a line of cauliflower-based baking mixes under the name CAULI-FLOUR, that they claim can replace flour in any recipe cup-for-cup. Trader Joe’s also invested in this trend with their own line of cauliflower-based pizza crusts that have been catching a lot of attention on social media.
The vegetable yields a lot of potential for more savory and sweet applications with its ability to absorb and simulate flavor. In addition, cauliflower is low in carbohydrates and fats while being gluten-free, which are qualities that health-focused consumers look for. Time dubbed it the next “it” vegetable in 2017 when they noted that more restaurants have been rolling out cauliflower-based meals. As vegetables start to become the main ingredients in dishes, new and innovative cauliflower dishes are a definite future.
However, as the demand for cauliflower continues to grow, it is likely that the vegetable’s price will increase as well. Nevertheless, food manufacturers should not worry too much about this because consumers have shown they have no problem spending extra money on healthier foods.