Microgreens demand will stay hot for 2021

Departments - Edible Insights

The pandemic and consumers’ renewed interest in all things health and wellness will keep microgreens in the spotlight over the next 12 months.

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February 25, 2021

PHOTO © smspsy | ADOBE STOCK

I heard a rumor that chefs have gotten a bit tired of microgreens and are dialing back on their orders from growers. But that is not what my chef friends here in Dallas, Texas, are telling me. Additionally, I certainly do not see interest in microgreens declining with home gardeners. As far as they are all concerned, microgreens are in — way in.

The massive surge in pandemic gardening, in fact, has brought microgreens back front and center in the minds of home growers. Every day I see another article pop up about microgreens from a bevy of health and wellness websites to gardening blogs and social media channels.

In fact, I must admit that all the exposure to microgreens marketing lately has pushed me back into the growing game. It has been a couple of years since I constantly grew microgreens, but repeated exposure lately has me back at it. No doubt, the consciousness around growing microgreens at home will no doubt influence increased demand at the grocery store and when dining or taking out.

Grow healthy

Health and wellness will be at the forefront of consumer consciousness in an even bigger way in 2021 and beyond. The pandemic has made healthy eating and immune system support a top priority for many of us right now. Additionally, combating the effects of too much screen time and home computer work are at the top of everyone’s to-do list.

With immense stressors on both our bodies and minds, easily incorporating more healthy fresh vegetables into our diets is a must.

In fact, I would say that most Americans have gotten a big wakeup call when it comes to how we are — or are not — taking care of ourselves when it comes to what we put in our mouths. We are all looking for simple and easy ways to improve our diets and nutrition. What could be easier than throwing a handful of microgreens into our soup or on our sandwich?

Big nutrition that stacks up in such a tiny package is a powerful tool both for the home consumer and growers. With microgreens of veggies such as cilantro, red cabbage and radish containing up to 40 times higher levels of nutrients than their mature counterparts, there is no denying a little goes a long way with microgreens.

Beyond touting the benefits of microgreens as a boost of color and flavor for diners, growers and chefs alike should capitalize on the real authentic health benefits these tiny veggies can add to every plate.

Elevated dining

As far as trends go, creating an “elevated” home dining experience is also big with consumers right now. Home cooks are looking for ways they can elevate not only the nutrition of the food they make, but also their dishes sensory experience. That is where the added boosts of color and flavor provided by microgreens come in handy.

When I checked in with some of my go-to culinary experts, they assured me microgreens are still on the menu. Fresh Origins Micro Fines Herbs Mix and Micro Intensity Mix are a couple of popular favorites, specifically for each product’s bright color value.

I’m told there’s also been a shift in which microgreens culinary professionals favor, from standard clamshells of mixed microgreens to a single species of microgreen with a more monochromatic look.

Beyond mixes, red veined sorrel, cilantro and arugula microgreens top the list of popular species. There are also a few more interesting microgreens that are favored, including sweet alyssum, micro nasturtium, Mexican marigold and pea tendrils. Check out “The Art of Plating” website for some visual inspiration (here).

Grow local

When I asked my local Dallas chef friends where they are getting their specialty microgreens, the focus was on local sourcing. The fresher and more local the microgreens, the better. I was pointed to Profound Foods, a Dallas-Fort Worth “food hub” that provides an online marketplace for locally grown and produced foods. They have a seasonally rotating selection of microgreens in addition to many other foods (here).

Profound Foods works to connect local farmers with local chefs to meet the growing demand for sustainable food. They also allow home consumers to order their produce and other fresh foods for home delivery. You must leave a cooler on your doorstep and your fresh produce is dropped off in the cooler. Unfortunately, it does not look like my zip code has made it into their home delivery zone yet, but anyone can register to be a pick-up customer at specified locations around the Metroplex.

I think this is an excellent model that combines aspects of conventional wholesale produce sourcing for local chefs and restaurants, and the farmers market platform for home consumers. The hub is a solution to both connecting chefs and consumers to fresh local produce, while at the same time addressing the strains of in-person shopping created by the pandemic. It’s a great opportunity for local farmers to deepen their community reach.

Ultimately, I would say the outlook for microgreens in 2021 is pretty tasty. Make sure you are leveraging the big boom in consumer consciousness when it comes to the health benefits of your microgreens, and do not forget to show consumers how they can use microgreens to enhance and elevate their at-home eating experiences.

Leslie (CPH) owns Halleck Horticultural, LLC, through which she provides horticultural consulting, business and marketing strategy, product development and branding, and content creation for green industry companies. lesliehalleck.com