Cauliflower! Don’t call-me-flour

Eimear Gill, North America Marketing Executive, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board

Cauliflower-based products are appearing more frequently and in a varied range of formats throughout retail and foodservice in the U.S.

Traditionally a relatively unexceptional vegetable, cauliflower is carving a new identity as a versatile ingredient and attractive alternative for rice, pizza bases and other grain-intense products.

The surge in grain-free foods is largely driven by a health consciousness among consumers, as they look to improve various aspects of their health including gut and brain health (Progressive Grocer). This shift in priorities is fuelling interest in plant-based alternatives (such as cauliflower!) as a means of reducing grain intake and avoiding gluten-rich foods.

In line with Bord Bia’s Consumer Lifestyle Trend, Health and Wellbeing, consumers are seeking ways to improve their overall wellness and nutrition, driving a $450 billion self-care market (IRI)

Many companies are capitalising on this consumer trend by offering products that incorporate cauliflower to varying degrees.

Founded in 2016, Caulipower uses cauliflower as the primary ingredient in all of its products. The company was set up to offer customers who have dietary restrictions a selection of nutritious gluten-free options to enjoy. Caulipower’s products range from pizza bases and tortillas to chicken tenders. It is also worth noting that Caulipower’s tenders are made with cage-free chicken. This reflects the holistic approach that consumers expect with regards to ethical and sustainable food production, as highlighted by the Consumer Lifestyle Trend, Responsible Living.

Retailers are also introducing new cauliflower products into their private label offerings. The 365 Everyday Value range by Whole Foods Market, for example, now includes cauliflower rice, cauliflower flour and cauliflower crust cheese pizza. Wegman’s private label range includes CauliCreme, Cauliflower Crust pizzas and Cauliflower Gnocchi among other cauliflower-based products.

Similarly, within foodservice in the US, it is becoming more commonplace to find new cauliflower-based products on menus. This trend can be seen across a wide spectrum of restaurants. Pei Wei Asian Diner, operating in over 200 U.S. locations, features fried cauliflower rice on its menu. Meanwhile, in New York’s boroughs, cauliflower crust pizza can be found in small independent pizzerias such as Grand Avenue Pizza, as pictured below.

Emerging consumer trends are creating change within the U.S. marketplace. Consumers are exploring new eating habits to meet their dietary requirements, such as gluten intolerance, or dietary preferences, such as plant-based, keto or vegan. By meeting this demand with food innovation, suppliers have the opportunity to achieve increased sales and brand growth.