With the rise of plant-based foods and “flexitarian” consumers, 2019 is positioned to be a strong year for increased innovation and interest in the produce category. From portable snacking to veggies for dessert, Frieda’s Specialty Produce, based in Los Alamitos, Calif., has revealed its top produce predictions for the year ahead.
“We are in the fields with our farmers and in the kitchens with our chefs,” Cindy Sherman, director of marketing and innovation for Frieda’s, said in a statement. “Fads become trends when they resonate with consumers beyond their 15 minutes of fame. We overlay consumer sentiment to predict what will really stick.”
It’s no secret that consumers love to snack, but with health and wellness trends more prominent than ever, shoppers are increasingly conscious of the foods they choose to chomp on between meals. From candy to crackers, portable and bite-sized items have been trending across the store perimeter, and Frieda’s predicts this trend to continue moving into the produce category well beyond berries. “Popable” produce such as cherry tomatoes, baby Brussels sprouts, cape gooseberries, kumquats, mandarinquats and limequats will rise in popularity as they satisfy consumer demand for both convenience and health.
First, it was the unicorn latte. Then it was cupcakes, cookies and doughnuts. Consumers are crazy for vibrant, Instagrammable foods that bring excitement to any meal occasion, and Frieda’s predicts that 2019 will be produce’s time to shine. A source of enticing natural color, produce has the power to brighten up meals, from golden turmeric smoothies and baked goods with persimmon glaze to roasted rainbow carrots and curry with Stokes Purple sweet potatoes.
Produce as ‘Protein’
As consumers of all diets and demographics express growing interest in plant-based foods, fruits and vegetables will increasingly take over the center of the plate, according to Frieda’s. The year ahead will see hearty, nutrient-dense vegetables such as potatoes, beets and jackfruit as the star of the meal, with meat increasingly used as a garnish, such as shaved beef jerky on top of ramen, Frieda’s said.
Veggies for Dessert
Vegetables may not be the first to mind when considering treats that satisfy sweet-tooth cravings, but inventive new recipes are offering consumers creative ways to apply veggies to dessert, such as avocado or sweet corn ice cream, according to Frieda’s. The company also highlighted its Stokes Purple sweet potato pie and butternut squash tarte tatin for the Thanksgiving holiday season.
Awake the Dragon
Known for introducing more than 200 varieties of unique produce to U.S. markets, Frieda’s foresees one of its top items, dragonfruit, growing increasingly popular in 2019. Common in fruit salads and fresh-cut produce packages, dragonfruit—which is available in red, white and yellow varieties—is making its way into beverages and entrees, as well. And as tropical fruit continues to rise in the U.S., Frieda’s predicts guanabana to be the next big hit with consumers.