What's 'Hot' On the Grill?

The latest trends for this barbecue season
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Jerk Chicken
Global barbecue dishes like spicy Jamaican jerk chicken should prove popular this grilling season

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024, held in January, introduced plenty of high-tech grilling solutions, from indoor smokers to AI-assisted grills. As a result, grocers should expect consumers to be more eager to host elevated backyard barbecue gatherings this year. Plus, grilling isn’t just for dinner anymore. According to the Arlington, Va.-based Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s 2023 “State of the Barbecue Industry” report, 12% of respondents grilled for brunch and 7% for breakfast, showing that consumers are expanding their grilling expertise.  

So, with peak grilling season in much of the United States just around the corner, grocers need to start strategizing on how to capitalize on the latest cooking trends. 

[RELATED: A New Frontier for Beef]

A Worldly View

Backyard grills are no exception to the explosion of interest in global flavors. Grilling equipment provider Smokin’ Ugly, by Jamestown, N.Y.-based WeberKnapp, predicts that international fare will gain momentum in the barbecue community in summer 2024, and grocers highlighting global barbecue styles, like the ones pointed out below by Smokin’ Ugly, can capitalize on this trend:

Korean barbecue is a popular restaurant style of food that’s now making inroads in consumers’ backyards. This type of barbecue adds depth of flavor by placing marinated meats like bulgogi and kalbi on the grill. 

Jamaican jerk is a seasoning blend originating from the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica and consisting of spices and flavors such as allspice, thyme and Scotch bonnet peppers. This style of cooking is known for its spiciness and is most popular in chicken dishes.  

Argentinian asado, a style of grilling that originated in Argentina, is known for its method of wood-fired cooking. While pork chorizos or blood sausage are popular, beef cuts are typically the star.  

Cooking With Convenience

Britney Banuelos, senior brand manager at Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, predicts that there will be more increased consumer creativity in grilling choices this summer. “In order to address budget considerations while ensuring an enjoyable grilling experience, anticipate a rise in the preference for thinner cuts such as top sirloin or flatiron steaks,” she says. “This strategic selection aims to provide consumers with a fulfilling grilling experience while effectively managing their grocery expenses.”

Banuelos also expects an uptick in flavor-infused burger patties in such varieties as bacon and cheddar.

Of course, it’s not just about the products on the grill, but also the items that pair with them. “St Pierre offers authentic brioche products in the form of American bakery staples, which means for consumers who are continuing to look for ways to treat themselves well at home, we offer an easy way to elevate a barbecue,” notes Neil Pittman, director of U.S. sales for Manchester, U.K.-based St Pierre Bakery.

Move Over Meat

A desire for healthier proteins will have consumers sizzling up more shrimp, salmon, scallops and other foods from the sea, while more non-carnivorous consumers will also get into grilling this season with plant-based products like seitan briskets and burgers that mimic the texture and flavor of animal-based meat. 

Further, fruits and veggies are redefining barbecue fare: Dishes like grilled peaches, lightly grilled bananas or even grilled wedge salads are ready to take center stage. 

Finally, don’t forget that more women are stepping up to “man” the grill. Retailers would do well to keep the female perspective in mind when creating merchandising displays. While “girl dinner” was a big trend last year, look for “women who grill” to rule 2024. 

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