But hummus sales are down double-digits in the wake of Sabra’s production woes.
Although units (-0.7%) and volume (-0.8%) were relatively flat, dollar sales of refrigerated dips shot up 10.5% to $386.47 million during the 12 weeks ended July 10 (versus the same period a year ago), suggesting that — at least for now — inflationary pressure is having little effect on consumer buying habits.
The sauce/gravy/marinade mixes subcategory, which includes fresh salsa, didn’t fare quite as well. Here, units (-2.5%) and volume (-4.8%) decreased slightly, though dollar sales rose 4.8% to $156.21 million, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI (iriworldwide.com).
But the biggest loser was the hummus-dominated flavored spreads subcategory, where dollar sales slid 14.1% to $177.14 million, and units tumbled 17.1%. However, the decline is attributed largely to production woes for category leader Sabra, down a whopping 77.7%. In fact, the remainder of the top 10 registered double-digit — or higher — gains as they rushed to fill the void.
‘The younger shopper in particular is looking for new types of flavors. And they like spicy.’
To stay relevant, manufacturers are always eyeing upcoming trends, no matter where they come from — even the food truck scene. “The younger shopper in particular is looking for new types of flavors. And they like spicy,” says John Baxter, vp of retail sales and marketing for Baltimore-based Phillips Foods. The company introduced Chesapeake Crab Dip and Cajun Seafood Dip last year, highlighting a trend toward both global and regional flavors that allow consumers to “travel with their taste buds.”
DISTINCTIVE FLAVORS, DUAL USES KEY
While Buffalo-style dips have been on everyone’s radar, Greenville, S.C.-based DiscoverFresh Foods is looking to put Southern-style dips on the map as well. The company is adding several new flavors to its Taste of the South lineup, including Fried Pickle & Ranch Dip, Farm Stand Buttermilk Ranch Dip, and three sweet varieties: Creamy Chocolate Ganache Dip, Salted Caramel Fruit Dip, and Vanilla Cream Cheese Fruit Dip, all available at Publix early next month.
While many fruit dips contain high fructose corn syrup, water and hydrogenated oils, DiscoverFresh’s sweet dips are made with real whipped cream and premium cream cheese. “We wanted to put out something that’s really going to wow people the first time they taste it,” says Matthew Haskell, vp of marketing and product innovation.
At the end of October, he continues, the company will debut Triple Cheddar Pimento Cheese Dip, Slow Cooker Sausage & Cheese Dip, Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dip, and Bootlegger Beer Cheese Dip, all of which will be available at Walmart (along with the new Fried Pickle & Ranch variety).
“We always develop our products around indulgence and real homemade-style meals,” says Haskell. “[It’s] like the stuff you see on Pinterest where real home cooks are sharing recipes” — but without all the cutting and crumbling and the hours of simmering.
The company’s new “meal-ready” Slow Cooker Sausage & Cheese Dip, for instance, contains real hand-pinched sausage and other high-quality, whole-food ingredients that shoppers don’t often see in this style of dip. And its new Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dip boasts real applewood smoked bacon and asiago cheese. So instead of cooking and crumbling bacon for a scratch-made dip, a home cook can just “pop it in the microwave and still have something he or she can be proud to serve at a party,” says Haskell.
He adds that the Triple Cheddar Pimento Cheese Dip, which contains three different types of aged cheddar, also goes great on both a burger and a salad plate, offering the versatility that shoppers crave.
Phoenix-based FoodStory Brands, creator of the Fresh Cravings and Salsa Sensations lineups, also touts its dips and spreads as dual-use snacks and recipe builders. For example, says chief marketing officer Jay Whitney, the company’s new dairy-based creamy dips, Kale Artichoke and Poblano Street Corn, go great with tortilla chips or crudites but can also make baked chicken or roasted veggies sing. Similarly, its new Peach Mango Salsa can pair with grilled fish or al pastor pork, while its Triple Pepper Salsa can add heat to a taco salad or rice bowl.
Also new on the shelves: five new SKUs from Sandpoint, Idaho-based Litehouse Foods that feature “bold flavors for every dip-worthy occasion.” The lineup includes Homestyle Ranch, Avocado Ranch, Southwest Ranch, Dilly Dip and Spinach Parmesan.
PLANT-BASED OFFERS HEALTH BENEFITS
In addition to crave-worthy flavors, consumers of dips and spreads are also carefully scrutinizing ingredient lists. Many are looking for products that contain high-quality whole foods or even offer specific health benefits.
“Today’s consumer reads labels to be sure that most if not all of their interests are ‘checked-off’: clean label, local sourcing as much as possible, environmentally friendly,” agrees Chris Glab, founder of wildbrine, Santa Rosa, Calif. “Many of these desired attributes have become ‘must-haves’ and not just ‘nice to haves.’”
That’s why Missoula, Mont.-based Plant Perks is launching three Plant-Based Cream Cheezes in January that are both oil- and starch-free, “which is pretty much impossible to find in plant-based cream cheeses,” says Tiffany Perkins, founder, chef and CEO. Available in Plain, Everything, and Garden Veggie, the cream cheezes are made with a “clean base” of fermented cashew cream, and then blended with certified organic, non-GMO and kosher ingredients.
“There are a lot of plant-based cream cheeses and butters on the market,” says Perkins. “However, most of them are extremely processed and made from inflammatory oils plus starches. Consumers are really starting to care about what they put into their bodies and where it’s coming from. They don’t want to be eating pesticides and GMOs.” She adds that Plant Perks is also putting the final touches on a plant-based ranch dip.
Another new entry comes from a new global plant-based brand, The Simple Root, backed by venture management firm Pilot Lite and multinational McCain Foods. Its veggie-forward line of dips, cream cheese-style spreads, and artisan cheese-style spreads is expected to launch in the U.S. this fall. It includes Salsa Con Queso, Sweet & Spicy Mango Sweet Potato Dip, Spinach Dip, Artichoke & Kale Dip, Sun-Dried Tomato Caprese Cheese Spread, Smoked Gouda Cheese Spread and four cream cheese-style spreads (Original Plain, Garlic & Herb, Strawberry and Sweet Chili).
Made with simple, not highly processed ingredients, the refrigerated products are free of dairy, nuts, soy, gluten, wheat and eggs, as well as artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. “Vegetables are our first and most important ingredient,” says global CEO David Behringer. “The Simple Root brand is about giving consumers a way to add more veggies to their diet with versatile, convenient, and great-tasting foods.”
Similarly, Hackensack, N.J.-based Violife this year expanded into dips with three new plant-based dips made with coconut oil and real, whole-food ingredients: French Onion, Spinach & Artichoke, and Ranch. All are free from dairy, nuts, soy, gluten, and preservatives. They became available in the U.S. in June.
“Consumers love the taste and convenience of dips,” says Debra Yoo, senior brand manager at Violife. “We know that these new dips will appeal to consumers across the country, whether they are vegan, dairy-free, or curious about plant-based foods.”
AVOCADO NOT JUST FOR GUACAMOLE
But dips don’t have to be plant-based to be better-for-you. For example, Rhome, Texas-based Fresh Innovations just rolled out a new line of avocado cream cheese-based dips under the ¡Yo Quiero! Brand, including Spinach Artichoke, Spinach Bacon, Bacon Cheddar Ranch, and Jalapeno Popper.
“With the mindfulness to balance premium ingredients and fresh flavors with nutrition, these delicious products combine the mouthwatering decadence of real cream cheese with the wholesome goodness of avocado,” says ¡Yo Quiero! co-owner and vp of sales Jay Alley.
“There is nothing like it on the market,” continues vp of marketing Tara Murray. “We had already developed delicious guacamole and mashed avocado products, so we began to look at what’s next…. Cream cheese-based spinach artichoke dips are trending upward, so we took the recipe of a traditional dip, removed half the cream cheese, added avocado and premium ingredients and lightly mixed it all together.” The new dip has a third less calories, fat and cholesterol than its conventional counterparts, she reports. The other varieties are also healthier than similar cream cheese-based alternatives. n