Riehle said it’s likely that kale will continue to become more popular on restaurant menus.
Walter P. Rawl & Sons Inc., Pelion, S.C., has been growing kale for more than 25 years for foodservice, said Ashley Rawl, director of sales, marketing and product development.
Most recently, it has found favor with consumers in supermarkets and shoppers have “gained an understanding of how tasteful and nutritious it is.”
Kale has transitioned from being a garnish to starring in soups, pastas and juices, he said.
While kale sales have increased in the foodservice category, the sales boost has not been as great as it has been at retail, he said.
Prices are higher than they were a year ago, he said, “but not tremendously.”
While kale has become a hot commodity in both foodservice and retail outlets, most suppliers believe that while it will remain popular, that popularity will reach a peak and then sales gradually will start to taper off.
Berk said she sees sales of other greens picking up.
“People are looking for flavor profiles,” she said, and all the greens are in the nutrient-dense category.
Scattini said he’s heard speculation from the culinary world that “kale’s already passé and it’s on its way down, but I can’t say that what’s happening in the marketplace reflects that,” he said.
One thing the industry has learned, he said, is that consumers are interested in “superfood-type items.”
“As an industry, we’re going to need to be prepared to understand what is going to be the next superfood, and what is going to be the format that we’re going to have to take it to market in,” he said.