Martha Stewart may have said that pumpkin flavor has seen its day during a cable television interview in September, but the marketplace—retail and foodservice—paints a different picture. Just when you thought you had seen it all, the next autumn brings more innovation.
This year, New Jersey pizza chain Villa Italian Kitchen began serving pumpkin spice pizza, for example. Its pizza dough is topped with pumpkin pie filling and mozzarella cheese. After baking, additional pumpkin pie filling is added on top.
If historical sales trends continue, the foodservice sector is just getting started when it comes to tapping into the pumpkin spice flavor trend, according to Upserve, a restaurant management platform in Providence, R.I. The company recently looked at data from bars and restaurants around the country related to pumpkin-flavored item sales and customer behavior and, as it turns out, pumpkin-flavored foods are alive and well at restaurants, with October the busiest month. This mimics what supermarkets have known for some time. Americans spent $360 million on pumpkin spice-flavored foods in 2015, according to Nielsen data.
In foodservice in 2015 and 2016, sales of pumpkin items increased by nearly 50% between the last week of September and the third week of October, before tapering off throughout November, according to Upserve research. Over the same seven-week period in 2016 and 2017, starting right after Labor Day when pumpkin products start rolling out, the average price of a pumpkin product dropped from $9.20 to $7.81. This price reduction, coupled with more and varied menu offerings, promotes trial. Trying pumpkin spice-flavored foods while dining out encourages purchase at retail.
On the Shelves
Just in time for the holiday entertaining season, Reser’s Fine Foods introduces three sweet additions to its Stonemill Kitchens premium dip line. Made with real ingredients like crème fraiche, pumpkin, maple syrup and peppermint bark, the line is free from high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Varieties are Gingerbread, Peppermint Bark and Pumpkin Spice. The suggested retail price for a 10-oz. container is $4.99. “It’s time to think beyond savory dips and chips for holiday entertaining,” says Nathan Roe, category and brand manager. “These dessert dips are a fresh idea for added flavor versatility and visual appeal.”
The Farmer’s Cow milks its limited-edition flavored whole milk line for the debut of Pumpkin Pie. This is the sixth new flavor from the dairy since introducing the concept in February. The milks contain no artificial flavors or colors, and no high-fructose corn syrup. They are produced in small batches and sold in collectible quart glass bottles. Like a pumpkin, this flavor has a bright orange cap to stand out in the dairy case. The suggested retail price is $5.99.
General Mills is adding Pumpkin Spice Cheerios to its seasonal breakfast cereal lineup. Made with real pumpkin puree and a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, it’s fall in a box. Gluten-free and containing no artificial flavors and no colors from artificial sources, the cereal is available in most mainstream supermarkets as well as private-label retailer Aldi. One serving contains 17g of whole grain, 110 calories and a mere 8g of sugar.