As e-tailers continue to threaten brick-and-mortar’s nonfoods sales, impulse buys are the secret ingredient that can enable the category to continue to thrive in-store.
Most online nonfoods purchases are planned in advance, according to the Global Market Development Center (GMDC), but stocking grocery shelves with items that offer shoppers something that they need last-minute, or didn’t know they needed at all, is a great way for brick-and-mortar to stay competitive.
Kitchen items are among the top drivers of these impulse buys because shoppers already have cooking and eating on the mind when making a trip to the grocery store. In fact, kitchenware was the top-trending category among most popular products highlighted at GMDC’s General Merchandise Conference. Also, grilling items have seen an impressive surge in popularity in recent years, with 63% of grillers reporting grilling occasions throughout the year in 2015 and off-season growth accounting for 97% of total category sales growth, according to GMDC.
Winsight Grocery Business takes a look at some of the top-trending and newest kitchen gadgets on the market.
Easier Produce Prep
Cutting fresh fruits and vegetables has been a longtime woe for home cooks, which has driven the demand for in-store produce “butchers” as well as gadgets that help speed up the task. Luckily for those tired of dicing, chopping and peeling, plenty of new innovations are hitting the market that are specially designed to accomplish produce-specific tasks with ease. For example, Swiss manufacturer Zyliss has launched gadgets such as a pepper corer that also works on jalapenos, and a grapefruit tool that removes the core and segments without squirting juice everywhere. Other products of the same vein to look out for include pineapple peelers; cherry and olive pitters; kiwi corers; strawberry hullers; watermelon wedgers; two-in-one avocado pitter and mashers; herb and kale strippers; tomato slicers and presses; cauliflower stemmers; and apple corers with improved grips or that are operated with a crank.
While some home cooks enjoy having tools designed for each specific task, others prefer multi-purpose tools that allow them to have fewer gadgets to store in their already crowded kitchen drawers. Enter newfangled products such as Sarco Products’ Fat Spatula, which can be used as a spatula, tongs and a strainer all in one. These types of creative kitchen hybrids are getting more innovative by the day, with cutting boards attached to strainers or with built-in knife sharpeners; multi-vegetable choppers with catching containers; and a “vinegar mister” that mixes oil and vinegar into a perfect sprayable salad dressing, among other highlights. Amazon is even selling a set of eight kitchen tools, including a lemon squeezer, egg separator and cheese grater, that fit into one sleek bottle that can also act as a measuring cup, funnel and vase.
Spiralizers and Ricers
Way back in the ’80s, fat was considered the enemy, but today’s consumers are more concerned about carbs, leading to a revolution of vegetables disguised as noodles and rice. More and more people are looking for ways to make zucchini noodles (zoodles) and other creations in the comfort of their kitchens without having to painstakingly thin-cut or grate the veggies. While most vegetable ricers on the market today are hand-pumped, spiralizers come in many shapes and sizes and can be hand-operated or electric. This means that there is a spiralizer out there for every veggie noodle lover, from small hand-twisted versions that can sell at a price of about $10 and fit easily on a grocery store’s kitchen essentials shelf, to large electronics for those willing to shell out big bucks for fewer carbs and calories in their weekend “pasta” dinners.
Environmentally Friendly, Healthy Storage
Plastic and other waste has become an enormous talking point in recent years, with many consumers working hard to reduce the amount of trash they produce and choosing more environmentally friendly options when it comes to food storage and packaging, as well as worrying about BPA, BPS and other potentially harmful chemicals found in plastic. As such, parents are sending their children off to school with peanut butter and jelly packaged in paper slips instead of yesterday’s plastic sandwich bags, and storing leftovers in glass and steel containers. This trend has even moved into the grocery store and deli, with packaging products such as Fabri-Kal’s TruWare containers, which are made from a minimum of 50% post-consumer recycled PET plastic, making them more sustainable and attractive to shoppers and also boasting a secure-fit lid that reduces the chance of leaks during transport.
Fermenting vegetables and canning jams may be old practices, but they have been reborn as today’s consumers exhibit a desire to get back to the basics and desire the health benefits associated with fermented foods. This is evident in recent innovations among Newell Brands’ longstanding Ball Jar line, with items such as amber-colored jars that block out 99% of food-damaging UV light, Elite jars for advanced canners and farmers, and novelty keepsake items that make perfect gifts. Gadgets are also hitting the market that make it easier to whip up finicky kimchi or sauerkraut, such as Kraut Source, a simple attachment that fits onto the top of a mason jar and results in a perfectly fermented cultured creation in as little as five days (although closer to two weeks is recommended for those who have the patience).
Keep an Eye on Kickstarter
While items that are gaining traction on crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter are not available on the mainstream market quite yet, it is a great place to look for retailers wanting to stay apprised of upcoming trends or to be first to market with the latest gadget craze. Recent Kickstarter finds include Ironwood Cookware’s sleek approach to the cast-iron skillet, which boasts a lightweight design and comes with a solid wood trivet and spoon to protect counters from the pan’s heat and provide stylish, damage-free stirring. Another Kickstarter gem to look for is the Safecut Knife for clumsy cooks, which comes with a patented built-in thumb protector that attaches to the handle so that it does not get lost. The ergonomic handle also offers a better grip to even further reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.