Some compare cauliflower to the nerdy kid in high school, who became very successful later in life. The formerly unsexy vegetable is the latest healthy produce to become a sought-after it-food. Vegetarian alternatives to meat favorites like cauliflower steaks and cauliflower wings are all over recipe blogs and food influencers’ social media feeds. Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi has had a cult following since its introduction in 2018.
Packaged cauliflower variants in particular appear to be behind the rise in the vegetable’s popularity. A 2017 Nielsen report found that while sales of fresh cauliflower were dropping, sales of barcoded cauliflower products doubled over the previous year. More recently, the market research firm found that cauliflower sales across all aisles went up nearly 40 percent between 2016 and 2019, with sales reaching more than $700 million.
In 2016, a marketing executive launched Caulipower based off the gluten-free cauliflower pizza crusts she made for her children with celiac disease. It’s now a multimillion dollar company, selling several types of crust and other products like cauliflower tortillas.
Cauliflower products are really kicking off. Cauliflower rice is now so ubiquitous, that the big rice producers are fighting back. Organizations representing rice producers, such as USA Rice, are advocating for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to add a standard of identity for the grain, so that not any product can be called ‘rice’.