Home cooking is gaining momentum

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Americans live in many ways. Since March 2020, to stay home and safe, consumers have embraced online shopping and stretchy pants, and banana bread and puzzles have had a defining moment for culture. And since restaurants were closed for eating and the grocery store was one of the few places it was okay to visit, many took up a new hobby. No, not the art of making cocktails. Consumers were cooking — out of necessity but also as a new gift of downtime.

Many of us working in the gourmet gift and home goods industry have wondered how long this home cooking trend will last, especially now that consumers can go out to eat again. Does he plan to make up for lost time by going out with friends? According to a survey by market research firm Hunter, Americans are continuing to cook more, with 71% saying they will continue to do so after the pandemic is over.

Before the pandemic, home cooking was growing in popularity. In 2018, the NPD Group reported that Americans were preparing and eating more meals at home (four out of five) than they had a decade earlier. This may be a big part of the meal delivery kit trend and the invention of the Instapot and other time-saving kitchen gadgets. It can also be attributed to the fact that Americans have healthier diets. In 2019, a study that included research from Harvard showed that nearly 44,000 American participants, both men and women, improved the Healthy Eating Index by 100 points, thanks to higher intakes of high-quality carbohydrates ( such as whole grains), vegetable proteins (such as whole grains). cereals and nuts) and unsaturated fats, and lower intakes of added sugars.

Even before the pandemic, we were seeing a trend of more consumers cooking at home and experimenting in the kitchen. — Jacob Ouellette, Stonewall Kitchen

“Even before the pandemic, we were seeing a trend of more consumers cooking at home and experimenting in the kitchen,” said Jacob Ouellette of Stonewall Kitchen. “However, it goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic catapulted this trend into the popularity we see today, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.”

There are many benefits to cooking at home, from making healthier recipes to controlling the quality of ingredients, to saving money and time. Ouellette noted, “Nothing compares to the satisfaction of preparing and enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal.” The gift and homeware industry can contribute to this rising lifestyle trend with shelf-stable foods that enhance recipes and high-quality cookware to make a dish the best it can be.

shelving flavor

The appeal of dining out is to create memories with friends and family. To create the feeling of the restaurant experience with home cooking, Ouellette recommends trying a new recipe or reworking an old one to make it more memorable. “A lot of times when people dine out, they tend to try something that they wouldn’t normally cook at home. Working on new individual products with a quick one-step upgrade can help recreate that experience, whether it’s a simple spice blend or a simmering sauce that delivers a new flavor or adds a twist. new dish to your home cooking repertoire,” he said.

Stonewall Kitchen offers many shelf-stable products that can enhance a home-cooked meal. From dry doughs to oils, spreads, sauces, mixes, dressings and more, the company makes it easy to cook something delicious at home, even for beginners.

Under the Stonewall family of brands, Urban Accents is considered a “culinary wingman”, with seasonings, sauces and entrees designed to bring incredible flavor to a dish. The latest release, its Meatless Mixes, is a new line of plant-based ground mixes with soy protein that are ready from pouch to plate in 15 minutes. Varieties include Korean barbecue, sloppy joe, street taco, hearty chili, and morning wrap, all of which are stable and therefore easy to store. “People are trying more meatless meals and including plant-based ingredients in their meals for healthier food concepts,” Ouellette explained. “Urban Accents designed our new meatless blends just for the ‘reduced-itarian’ crowd.”

Ouellette noted that consumers are becoming more adventurous in the kitchen with the meals they create, often using different ingredients to create unique dishes. “Most of this is actually coming from a seemingly younger population, which is really exciting for the food industry,” he said.

Kitchen utensil upgrade

For consumers new to home cooking or for those looking to upgrade their tools, independent retailers can display cookware alongside shelf-stable foods to encourage multiple purchases. Basic products such as sauté pans, saucepans and stockpots are indispensable for gourmet retailers. “When you’re spending on an expensive steak or piece of fish, you want to make sure your cookware can enhance and show off those ingredients,” said Christina Chonody, director of marketing at Hestan Culinary.

“Perhaps the most important ingredient (besides food) when cooking is high-quality cookware,” Chonody continued. Hestan cookware, in particular, is handcrafted in the company’s factories in Italy. Its three collections, NanoBond, CopperBond and ProBond, all feature flush rivets to prevent food buildup and interlocking for easy storage; sealed rims to prevent cracking and delamination; a French-inspired ergonomic handle design for comfort and control, and a lifetime warranty.

In addition to the basics, it’s a good idea for gourmet retailers to carry a few items that cater to a more adventurous palate, such as woks, tagines, tortillas, rice cookers and others. gadgets that make cooking new kitchens accessible. To appeal to the consumer looking to improve their health, items that allow faster chopping of fresh ingredients, as well as healthy cookbooks, are a hit.

Ultimate Fresh Ingredients

Besides puzzles and new baking hobbies, houseplants have only grown in popularity since the dawn of the work-from-home era. But this trend is not restricted to garden center traders. Gourmet retailers can also capitalize on this trend by offering herb grow kits that have the ability to take a dish from ordinary to tasty. Modern Sprout, a Chicago-based company on a mission to make indoor gardening simple, has some great gift products for those new to growing herbs.

I’m confident that once people understand the versatility and depth of herbs, they won’t be able to stop using them. — Ellie Horn, Modern Sprout

Ellie Horn, Marketing Director of Modern Sprout, said: “Before launching Modern Sprout, we really started to embrace herbs in the kitchen and realized not only the taste benefits of having herbs at our fingertips, but also nutritional benefits. I’m confident that once people understand the versatility and depth of herbs, they won’t be able to stop using them. Once you start growing your own, they will quickly become as essential to seasoning as salt.

Horn recommends carrying basil, mint and parsley as they go well with many dishes and drinks. The garden pots are complete kits that include a reservoir and wick system that deliver the perfect amount of water and nutrients daily, so all the user needs to do is refill the reservoir when needed. low. The Herb Pull & Pinch Dish is also a very handy tool that quickly removes herbs from the stem into the built-in dish, ready to use.

Encourage gourmet retail sales

Gourmet retailers are well-versed in selling gourmet foods, cookware, cookware, and other products to enhance the dining and dining experience. For retailers who are just dipping their toes in gourmet waters, it pays to intersect merchandise with other items they already sell to tell a complete story. Setting up a display with exotic herbs, ethnic cuisine-focused cookbooks, and cooking tools to help prepare homemade world dishes is a great start. It’s also wise to include items that contribute to a restaurant-like ambiance, including table decor, table textiles, scented candles, and even dishes well suited to particular dishes, such as larger bowls. for serving ramen, small dishes for dipping soy sauce, family-style serving and more.

Of the sale of Stonewall Kitchen products, Ouellette said, “While Stonewall Kitchen has often focused on selling experiences and moments for our customers, the products on the shelves speak for themselves. The presentation is often essential to show what makes the quality of a product. Starting from what we strive to offer our own customers, retailers could focus on how products are presented, whether that be with dedicated shelves or marketing materials that present a complete dining experience.

To market Modern Sprout, Horn recommends showing it out of the box. “Show off one of our best selling garden jars in action! Our customers love seeing how the product will look in their home and seeing the freshly grown herbs in the space saving container is one of our top recommendations.

More consumers are cooking at home now than in years past, and the trend continues to rise, even as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, and independent retailers are expected to make cheddar cheese in the process.

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