Mashed chickpeas are all the rage. For the past several years, mainstream retailers have brought more hummus varieties into their coolers, and for good reason.
In 2012, the refrigerated spreads category had double-digit unit growth, with volume sales up 10.4% over the 52 weeks ending Dec. 2, according to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI. This growth comes after a unit sales increase of 10.8% in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 1, 2012.
Flavored Spreads Sales
View an interactive chart comparing dollar sales of top vendors of flavored spreads.
Retailers across the country have seen shoppers taking more interest in hummus.
“We sell a whole lot of it,” said Ian Joskowitz, chief operating officer, Westside Market NYC, a four-store independent based in Manhattan. It was over the past three years that Joskowitz noticed a growing interest in hummus.
Patti Rispoli, deli and floral supervisor at Food Circus Super Markets, Middletown, N.J., said it’s been about eight years since hummus caught on in Super Foodtown locations.
“As far as sales on it, it has steady growth, and it’s just been an item that has really taken off.”
Westside Market, known for its wide variety of prepared foods, offers both commercial and house-made hummus. The hummus category is so popular that one of its stores just expanded merchandising space.
“In recent weeks, we added another refrigerated case half dedicated to hummus,” Joskowitz said.
Gary Taylor, business manager for deli at United Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, said stores offer a variety of commercial brands, flavors and sizes of hummus.
“Many more flavors added and each new flavor seems to do very well,” he said.
United also makes fresh hummus on-site. The fresh hummus is available in the salad bar or sold packaged. While the 10-ounce container is United’s biggest segment, Taylor said the snack size varieties are gaining sales.
“I expect to see the four-flavor large variety pack increase even more. It is a very new item for us.”
From 2009 to September 2012, the most popular flavors of hummus were plain (61%), roasted (18%), garlic (11%) and red pepper (10%), according to a recent Mintel report.
These overall flavor trends are similar to what Joskowitz has seen at Westside Market.
“Roasted pine nut is a big seller; the plain is a big seller. The toned down hummuses sell the best. Roasted red pepper is a great seller. The spicy stuff doesn’t sell nearly as well,” he said. The commercial brands are more popular than the store-made varieties at Westside Market.
At Food Circus, Rispoli said the best-selling varieties and sizes depend on the store.
“In one store, for instance, they may sell a lot of just the classic and another store may sell more of the baba ganoush or a white bean, so the variety just goes by store location.”
Restaurants have also picked up on the hummus. There was a 5.3% increase in hummus menu items at restaurants and buffets from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Mintel’s Menu Insights. Spinach/artichoke dips and cheese dips also made it onto more menus, with 8.9% and 9.3% growth, respectively.