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Unicorn-kissed, Popable and Functional Add Up to Produce Trends

Persimmons infiltration of quick-service restaurants is expected to grow by 101 percent in the next four years, according to the United Fresh Produce Association’s spring insights report. The majority of persimmons will be shipped frozen, since the squishy fruit is more challenging to ship fresh. 

Arugula is also having its moment in the spotlight as well, as are apricots and Swiss chard, the association said in The Packer, an online newsletter reporting on produce trends. According to the report: 26 percent of fine-dining restaurants serve apricots in some form on their menus. And while not a new produce on the block, strawberries and asparagus are trending right now as well. 

“Fresh produce trends move through a menu cycle in an established pattern of inception, adoption, proliferation and ubiquity,” the article reported.  

Not just for summer anymore, watermelon also is becoming a menu must, with a MenuTrends Research study finding a 54 percent increase in menu mentions in the past four years (remember that cycle). The National Watermelon Promotion Board —yes, watermelon has its own board and its own National Watermelon Queen, Katie Honeycutt (too bad there’s not a honeydew queen; she could double dip)—is investing in research to analyze watermelon’s potential for weight-loss and health effects. And if that pans out, watermelon may be the next superfood star.

Supermarket News is reporting another trend, added heat to dried fruit, such as chili tamarindo mangos, for an ethnic twist. 

On the prepackaged snack side, “popables”—prepackaged veggies or fruit, such as kumquats and cape gooseberries and even Brussels sprouts that can be easily popped into one’s mouth without the need for cutlery— are finding their way into grab-and-go displays, according to Winsight Grocery Business that puts together an online slide show of trends. Other insights included were the use of vibrant colored vegetables, such as purple sweet potatoes, on a plate for the Instagraming crowd (referred to as “Unicorn-kissed cooking”) and the rise of plant-based protein, replaced meat.

A variety of fresh, vibrant produce on a restaurant's plate also is no trend with the functional food movement" that encourages chefs to use not only healthy ingredients, but foods that can help cure a health issue.

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