As consumers look to eat healthier, they are also attempting to add foods to their meals that bring a new depth of flavor as well. Pickled products have been the answer to this growing trend as the buzz surrounding kombucha and kimchi as well as the expanding palates of the Millennial generation have given life to this shelf-stable category.
Ginger Cobl, owner of The Cupboard in Decatur, AL, explained that she carries a variety of pickled products, including pickled Brussels sprouts (her best-seller), spicy pickled beans, asparagus and okra. She also carries dilled onions from local vendor Arabelle that has been selling well with those looking for pickled items.
But, while Cobl said some customers do gravitate towards the products, others need a bit of help taking the plunge. One of the best practices she has come upon is giving her clientele ideas of what to do with the goods when using them at home.
“You can’t expect all of your customers to be as culinary savvy as you may be, so I talk to them about what they can do with these things beyond just eating them out of the jar,” Cobl said.
She purposely stocks the products next to the Bloody Mary mix she carries in order to get customers engaged in this type of conversation, she explained, since Bloody Marys are one way to use pickled foods.
“I tell them how to build an amazing Bloody Mary garnish with them and then I give them a few other ideas, like to try putting one of the pickled Brussels sprouts in a martini instead of an olive,” she said.
Cobl speaks to each specific type of pickled product she carries and several ways to use them in order to elevate flavor, from charcuterie boards to burgers or even in combination with cream cheese. This, she said, is an effective tactic since sampling pickled foods can be challenging.
“You don’t just want to hand someone one of these foods and say, ‘Here, eat this,’ when it comes to sampling them,” Cobl said.
She explained that when she does in-store events, she is careful to put together cheese platters and other light bites that feature these types of products. Then, she said, she places the jar next to the food and ensures the label is on the outside.
“This lets people know that we do sell these products in the store and it usually helps strike up a conversation about them,” she said.
When it comes to sourcing products, said Cobl, she explained that some of her pickled products are local, whereas others aren’t as close in proximity as some other shelf-stable food vendors. This is because food products are about taste and quality, which usurps the demand for locally-sourced items.
“You really have to go with what’s the best tasting product because taste trumps locality. But, most of these companies are still small and family-owned and operated, so it’s something that I feel good about,” she said.