The Mighty Cauliflower Is Not Just Hype

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Time Magazine declared in 2017 that the lowly cauliflower is the new “it” vegetable while Bloomberg dubbed is as “the new kale.” Although these declarations should have encouraged people to eat more of this vegetable, its sales remained flat for a few months. In fact, Nielsen Perishables reported that while the sales of cauliflower grew to 8% annually from 2011 to 2016, it remained flat ever since.

How the Cauliflower Debuted As the “It” Veggie

Although people have been intrigued about cauliflower for a few years, it was only now that it was presented under the limelight. It was the Cauliplower’s 2017 debut that made this vegetable famous. It was during the expo when consumers were first introduced to the first gluten-free cauliflower pizza crust. To date, nearly 9,000 stores distribute this product that led to the creation of a new baking mix by the company. This also sparked the trend which resulted in the market seeing products like cauliflower chips and cauliflower pretzels. Gone are the days when the only cauliflower product available at Trader Joe’s is cauliflower rice.

What makes the vegetable trendy is that it is healthy, full of fiber and low in carbohydrate content, which makes it a very logical alternative to grains especially among people who cannot eat grains. Grains have been blamed for digestive issues which are pushing the gluten-free trend. This vegetable also fits well with the growing vegan and plant-based movement. In a report released by GlobalData, there was an increase of 600% of people who opt for the vegan lifestyle in the U.S.

High Demand, Low Production


There is an increased consumption of fresh cauliflower according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The per capita consumption of cauliflower is estimated to 2.18 pounds in 2017 that is 38% higher from the 1.57 pounds in 2016 and 1.33 pounds in 2010.

Despite the increased consumption per capita of cauliflower, there is still a limited supply of cauliflower to meet the growing demands of the consumer. This is expected to drive the prices of the vegetable higher. But will this make a price war in the market? Not entirely as the agriculture sector is working hard to meet the growing demands of this wonder veggie.

On the other hand, cauliflower contains a minimal amount of starch, which makes formulation challenging to create new products without using specialized equipment. For instance, cauliflower pretzels and crackers need special tools to develop the new products according to Ground Up COO Vincent James–maker of cauliflower crackers and pretzels.

The lowly cauliflower has emerged into a superfood, and it has come a long way since it debuted in the expo. If food manufacturers can continue to create more opportunities to develop cauliflower-based products despite the challenges such as the high price and low demand, then this vegetable will have a long way to go before it reaches its full potential.

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The Rise of Cauliflower Rice

The recent rise of “riced” vegetables has led to criticism amongst food connoisseurs. Betsy Ward, the president of USA Rice, has boldly declared that “Only rice is rice, and calling ‘riced vegetables,’ ‘rice,’ is confusing and misleading to consumers.” One of the most well-known of these controversial food products is cauliflower rice, the result of pulsing in a food processor. Although cauliflower rice soaks up sauces and spices like classic rice, plenty of seasoning is necessary to enrich the dull flavor. One cup of cauliflower contains two grams of net carbohydrates; on the other hand, white rice includes 51 grams of carbs and brown rice 42 grams.

Healthy Alternatives Reflected in Other Food Sectors

Cauliflower Rice vs. Traditional White Rice CarbsJust as the term milk has broadened to include non-dairy based products, such as almond and soy milk, rice has followed suit and done the same. Although the new cauliflower product is not the consumer’s first pick, it appeals to people looking for healthy food options.

Similarly, the pasta business has seen its share of the growth of alternative pasta products, with squash and zucchini pasta becoming a more attractive alternative to starchy, traditional pasta. People are ready to grab and utilize the vegetables they already have at home, threatening industries that incorporate and sell carbohydrate-rich food products.

The dairy industry’s unsuccessful attempts to eliminate competition such as the nut, soy, and other non-dairy based milk drinks is an affair that could potentially be seen in the rice business. If the rice industry raises this concern to the FDA, however, they might be able to avoid this. The definitions of terms such as “milk” and “healthy” have long been in limbo, and some are unsure whether or not the current presidential administration will provide a traditional definition, finally putting an end to the conflict between conventional and unconventional, alternative food and beverage manufacturers.

Wise Marketing Strategies Will Help the Rice Industry

Despite the growing popularity of non-traditional rice products, there are ways for the industry to weaken the acclaim for cauliflower rice. Ripple, a plant-based milk brand, has introduced a game that educates consumers on the advantages of milk in comparison to traditional dairy milk. Rice businesses could use similar strategies to teach users on the rewards of eating regular rice. Through purposeful advertisement and other marketing strategies, the rice industry could certainly achieve this goal.

It is still unclear to all, whether or not cauliflower rice will be above its traditional counterpart. A possibility remains that cauliflower rice may not achieve the same success as alternative dairy products in the dairy industry. In the end, regardless of how successful or trendy cauliflower rice may become in the future, the rice industry should remain on their toes and ready to face more competition.

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