US: Sauerkraut resurgence brings less seasonal consumption

In the early part of the 20th century in the United States, sauerkraut was popular because of an influx of European immigrants who brought their food preferences with them. Consumption waned through the following decades, though there is now a resurgence of the product. But unlike consumption during the first wave of popularity, and unlike how it's still consumed in Europe, the product has more of a year-round appeal in the U.S.

“Sauerkraut was traditionally made in the fall with the late-summer cabbage crop,” said Jeff Wilson of Bubbies Pickles, a seller of pickled and fermented food products in California. “There used to be more seasonal consumption, but, with the current generation, we see that it's consumed every day or every week.” Renewed interest in the product started about 10 or 15 years ago, and it had a lot to do with evolving ideas about the importance of healthy foods.

“The popularity of fermented foods has increased, and now things like sauerkraut are becoming cornerstones to a healthy diet,”said Wilson. “Sauerkraut used to be served as a side dish, or, as it's often thought of, as something you put on a hot dog. But kraut is more versatile and has really become a staple in the everyday diet.”

Sauerkraut consumption has increased such that it is Bubbies' biggest-selling item. The DIY culture of homebrewing and home-pickling has generated a lot of excitement about fermented items, and Wilson believes that will further drive sales of sauerkraut, even if people can make the product themselves.

“Artisan, high-quality pickled products and fermented products are industries that are super-hot right now,” said Wilson. “People try their hand at pickling and get a taste of these things, and then they opt for the convenience of high-quality products like ours. Home pickling will create a lot of opportunities for many regional brands, but it's also an overall positive thing for the category.”

For more information:
Jeff Wilson
Bubbies of San Francisco
+1 209 951 6071

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