Rack of ribs with barbecue sauce

Still in Love with Summer

Denis Storey
June 28, 2018

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In “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Scout Finch waxes nostalgic about summer.

“Summer was on the way,” Scout recalls fondly, “Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape…”

Today, summer means barbecue. But barbecue’s reach has extended far beyond summer. According to the consultants at Technomic, a market research firm, barbecue dishes like brisket and pulled pork enjoy increased popularity at the restaurant level.

Among chef interviews for the National Restaurant Association’s latest report, barbecue is still a favorite. It sits in second place among “perennial favorites.”

This summer, the experts at Mintel, a market research firm, expect that trend to expand to the vegan market.

According to Mintel’s “2018 Summer Food and Drink Trends,” more consumers crave meat-free days, especially in Europe. Even about a third of American consumers are expected to pursue vegetable-based food products more actively.

Combine that with the increased quality of vegan products, whether its ingredients, flavors, or finished goods, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

“Gone are the days of uninspired soy burgers for the lone vegan or vegetarian at the garden party,” analyst Melanie Zanoza Bartelme writes. “With an increase in flavorful and specialty vegan products, such as black bean chipotle, quinoa crunch southwest, or Asian spiced burgers, expect to see plenty of well-seasoned and savory options that might tempt the flexitarian away from their sausages.”

Another summer favorite, ice cream, is also expected to fare well this year, according to Mintel, with the more prominent brands chasing Halo Top’s success from last year. The low-calorie, low-sugar ice cream outsold everyone last year, enticing customers with packaging that featured the calorie count.

“As consumers look to balance their diets with an occasional treat and a boost to their mood, more ice cream brands will emerge that aim to replicate Halo Top’s combination of flavor, texture, and treat appeal alongside a distinct nutritional health benefit,” writes Mintel’s Alex Beckett.

Flavor is something expected to drive sales this summer, too. The Mintel research suggests that consumers want bolder flavors in their snacks and drinks, but with less sugar.

For the foreseeable future, then, it looks like summer will still be the season for “everything good to eat.”

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