Brussels sprouts may finally be getting their day in the sun, with growing consumer interest and sales.
"We continue to have increasing demand on all the brussels sprouts packs that we offer," said Butch Corda, general manager of Ippolito International LP, Salinas, Calif.
Ippolito International offers Brussels sprouts in various sizes, including a 25-pound bulk carton, 1-pound clamshell, 1- and 2-pound bags, a 12-ounce bag, and even a microwave bag, Corda said.
Others agree that Brussels sprouts are trending right now.
"We"ve had substantial growth in the past years and are seeing increased consumption through our increasing same-store sales," said Russ Widerburg, sales manager at Boskovich Farms, Inc., Oxnard, Calif.
"We"ve seen an increase in sales over the past couple of months," said Mishalin Modena, senior marketing manager for Salinas, Calif.-based Green Giant Fresh.
The company recently upgraded its Brussels sprouts packaging, which Modena says contributed to an increase in sales.
"It"s a high-graphic bag, so it really pops on the shelf," she said.
The rise in popularity can also be largely attributed to the increase in use by chefs on television and in popular restaurants.
"Brussels sprouts are a ‘hot ingredient" right now being added to menus across the U.S.," Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development, Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif., said in an e-mail.
The vegetable, which often has been considered unglamorous, is now enjoying the attention of popular chefs on food and cooking television shows.
"Chefs are being more adventurous and finding new flavor in these vegetables that some consumers might have considered unexciting or have been predisposed to dislike from their childhood," Modena said.
One positive result of this exposure is increased creativity in usage. Another benefit is an increase in consumer knowledge in how to select and cook them.
"I think consumers have gained an education from food shows, as well as retailers helping to provide information," Widerburg said.
Widerburg also cites packaging as a helpful source of information, since it often includes information and recipes.
Tuggle said even the Brussels sprout stalk is gaining in attention.
"The Brussels sprout stalk format is growing in popularity around the holidays for retailers who want a ‘show stopper" to display as an attention attractor," she said in an e-mail.
Modena also said varieties have changed.
"Chefs are starting to work with artichokes, Brussels sprouts and kale because the varieties are sweeter now and not as bitter," she said.
Suppliers said there should be promotable volumes for Easter and other upcoming holidays.
"We"re going to be doing some Mother"s Day campaigns, and it"s a great item for Easter, so we have a few retailers doing large displays and promotions," Modena said.
Tuggle said promotable volumes are available all year, though winter months are still popular times for promotions.
"Brussels sprouts are a cooking vegetable, which is a category that peaks in consumer demand in the holiday and winter months of November through February, and therefore an ideal time to promote to match demand," Tuggle said.