It’s no secret cauliflower is hot, but how did one of the most neutral flavors in the produce department grab all of this attention? It’s all about what you make of your raw materials.
Cauliflower Crumbles, a product marketed under the Green Giant brand by Growers Express LLC, Salinas, Calif., contributed to 44% of the dollar growth in the entire cauliflower category in 2016, says Lori Bigras, director of marketing and communications for Growers Express.
Growers Express was awarded a patent for the Cauliflower Crumbles product and process by the United States Patent and Trademark office in January. Bigras took some time to discuss the patent process and the potential beyond the raw materials of Cauliflower Crumbles.
PR: Tell me a little about how Cauliflower Crumbles came to market.
LB: Being in the fresh value-added products business, we know consumers are time-starved, and want healthier meal options for themselves and their families but without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. Cauliflower has been a popular, on-trend vegetable for a few years now and we wanted to make it even easier for people to sauté, stir-fry, roast, bake and purée with this whole head vegetable that can be time- consuming and messy to chop up.
Several variations of the cauliflower chop size were explored and tested during the development process. The ideal size and cut that was selected was found to be the perfect size to easily steam in bag for mashes or purées, but is also large enough to add some substance and texture to a variety of dishes.
Cauliflower Crumbles were a new idea in produce.What did the market think at first?
LB: Because this was the original chopped cauliflower product in the marketplace, we had to make sure the retailers and, of course consumers, knew how to use it. It’s much more than a mashed veggie replacement for starchier potatoes.
We developed several recipes—both sweet and savory—with Cauliflower Crumbles, and featured these “sweets treats” at various shows and events nationwide in 2015 and 2016 showing the infinite usage possibilities. People marveled at the many applications we served up, from cauliflower mac n’ cheese and pizza crust to decadent chocolate cake, muffins and cookies.
We produced a handout to send to retailers to announce the product, educate them about its attributes and make sure they knew what it was so if/when consumers were requesting it, they would know what they were referring to. This, combined with our outreach efforts to market this unique product to consumers, would start to build in the ever-important familiarity factor.
PR: What’s unique about your process?
LB: The patented process, which covers harvesting, processing and proprietary modified atmosphere packaging design, delivers a product with consistent chop size, color, appearance and excellent shelf life; all of which ensures the ultimate in freshness and convenience to the consumer. Each
16-oz. bag is equivalent to one whole head of cauliflower and is ready-to-use with no prep, no mess and no clean up. And no waste!
PR: Any surprises along the way as this product has evolved? What’s next for the Crumbles line?
LB: Building on the popularity of the original Cauliflower Crumbles, in the latter part of 2016, Green Giant Fresh launched two new crumbles items, effectively creating a “line” for this popular item. These new items — Cauliflower Crumbles “Fried Rice” Blend and Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Crumbles —boast many of the same claims as their Cauliflower Crumbles cousin: gluten-free, non GMO, paleo-friendly, washed and ready to use. But one of the most coveted characteristics of these healthy time-saving products is they can be steamed right in their pouch, promising fresh vegetables in minutes with virtually no mess, no prep and no clean up. Like the other Cauliflower Crumbles products, this unique blend of two popular veggies is great for a variety of fast and healthy side dishes, hashes and mashed potato alternatives, and can also be tossed into soups, stews and casseroles.