Hummus Remains Relevant

Healthy hummus has retained its prominence in today’s delis.

Consumers keep coming back to hummus, as it is a versatile product that provides health benefits.

In 2020, the hummus market was valued approximately at $811.9 million and is anticipated to grow with a healthy growth rate of more than 3.3% CAGR, according to Reportlinker’s report Global Hummus Market 2022-2026. It is projected to reach $1021.6 million over the forecast period 2022-2026.

According to Technavio, the hummus market share is expected to increase by $1.75 billion from 2021 to 2026, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a CAGR of 10.41%.

New Developments & Trends

The hummus category has become more versatile in recent years to include a variety of types and flavors.

“The category now includes mainstream hummus products that are hot processed and premium hummus products like Hope that utilize a different make process,” says Nicole Pavlica, vice president of marketing at Louisville, CO-based Hope Foods, which uses high pressure processing (HPP) to lock in fresh flavor and offer consumers a made-at-home texture that is not possible with hot processed hummus.

According to Pavlica, “Health-minded consumers continue to seek non-GMO, organic, preservative-free products that offer protein and other macronutrients but aren’t willing to compromise on taste.”

Hope has an integrated nutrition health coach and chef that work together to ensure that its products support holistic wellbeing without compromising on taste. Each recipe is first created in a kitchen, not a lab. Its chef knows how to delicately balance flavors like lemon juice against the earthy flavor of garbanzo beans and tahini, creating creaminess using only extra virgin olive oil, and adding in other herbs and spices to create truly unique eating experiences.

“Additionally, recipes are given a gut-check—meaning that the ingredients are mindfully selected to support physical and emotional well-being,” Pavlica says.  “Because the gut regulates serotonin, Hope ensures that its products contain ingredients that support a healthy microbiome.”

Also, each package contains encouraging messages underneath the lid. Hope only uses non-GMO, sustainably grown ingredients and only uses extra virgin olive oil for superior flavor and healthy fats.

“Younger generations are looking for products that help them do good in the world, and Hope offers them the opportunity to do that by purchasing its product,” Pavlica says. 

The brand invests annually in free self-care programming for consumers, employees and its community. 

“Hummus is a growing category with less mainstream brands driving growth,” Pavlica says. “Premium hummus, like Hope, are attractive to consumers because of its exceptional flavor, lack of artificial ingredients and nuanced textures.”

Although so much has changed since Sarah’s Harvest’s debut in Deli Business’ fall 2016 edition, a few things have remained constant; this includes the consumer trend of eating several healthy small meals throughout the day.  

Since 2016, the demand for healthy options has morphed into a quest for clean, minimally processed plant-based foods that are satisfying and even bingeworthy.   The distinction between traditional and Sarah’s Harvest hummus lies in the fresh, not dried, garbanzos, which provide the never pasty base for this unique smooth product.     

The fresh chickpeas (garbanzos) used for making Sarah’s Harvest are harvested when the peas are tender, succulent and green, nestled in paper-thin pods. These are picked at the precise time when natural sugars start to convert to carbohydrate, when both flavor and nutrition are at their peak. By contrast, traditional hummus is made from garbanzos that are harvested dry, the seeds rehydrated, then used  as the base ingredient to make a hummus paste that carry recipe flavors.

In terms of Sarah’s Harvest’s most popular flavors, Cilantro and Spicy jalapeño with its warm and tangy punch from the blended fresh ingredients are a strong seller. Also, the subtle and sweet Original Recipe has a short ingredient list, allowing the natural nutty legume flavors to shine. The company’s Roasted Garlic/Rosemary is savory and rich and pairs as well with vegetables and meats as it does with a cracker. 

“There have been many changes at Califresh of California over the last six years, but the basics for Sarah’s Harvest have not changed,” says Morgan Murray, president of Califresh. “Sarah’s is all about fresh and natural ingredients. 

The green chickpea that is the base in Sarah’s is much more flavorful.”

Sarah’s harvest Fresh Green Chickpea Hummus offers three flavors in 9.5-ounce tubs for the packaged deli aisle, and 2-pound piping bags for foodservice and the prepared deli case, ideal for school lunch programs.

Hummus suppliers note that the post COVID-19 the hummus category is on the rise, as consumers are looking for healthy, convenient snacks. 

The New York Post recently noted that consumers are eating hummus and dips more frequently and as a meal.

“Throughout COVID-19, grab-and-go convenience was nonexistent in many retailers,” says Aimee Tsakirellis, vice president of marketing, Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods Inc., Ward Hill, MA. “But now that consumers are going back to work and school, the demand for grab-and-go is rising. Consumers were starting to fall back on classic flavors during the pandemic. But now we are seeing that they are eating hummus throughout the day, which is leading to them trying new flavors again.”  

For example, Cedar’s new Organic Pumpkin hummus tastes like pumpkin pie and is great to top waffles in the morning. This new flavor is exclusive to Whole Foods Market from September 1 to December 1.  

“At Expo East, we launched Topped Organic Hot Chili Hommus, which is an original hummus base with all the heat in the topping so consumers can mix in whatever amount they wish to control the heat level,” Tsakirellis says.

She adds that products that are complementary to hummus are on the rise, as well,  like baba ghanoush, tzatziki and tabouleh, which are helping propel the hummus category.  

“In general, the Mediterranean diet and Mediterranean foods are becoming more popular,” Tsakirellis notes.

“The dips and spreads category is as dynamic as ever, and we see delicious versatility as key today,” says Lauren Fuller, head of brand communications for Sabra. “People are looking to get the most out of every purchase, and hummus is a famously versatile food, which is why consumers love dipping into it as an everyday, cravable afternoon snack.”

This also is a healthy alternative to other snack foods.

“Premium hummus products like Hope lock in freshness without the use of artificial ingredients and preservatives,” Pavlica says. “The HPP process gives consumers the exact experience they would have if they made the hummus themselves. Hope doesn’t reheat or overprocess its hummus, so there’s no need to add toppings to make up for lost flavor. The consumer tastes what they would experience if they stopped by our chef’s kitchen for a snack.”

Katie Schwehm, brand manager for Tribe, which is produced by Lakeview Farms, Inc. in Delphos, OH, notes that it’s an interesting time with hummus.

“We’re not alone with how we’re seeing some different ingredients and the impact on the category,” she says. “We’re seeing a lot of people explore other brands and a trend in switching to private label is big with hummus.”

This is due to inflation and more people who are cost conscious.

Private label is available, and many people in the business know that manufacturers making branded products also produce private label items.

Lakeview Farms offers private label, but its focus is on its branded lines.

“We pulled back on some flavors, but the category is still centered on tried and true flavors with classic, red pepper and Mediterranean,” Schwehm says. “There has been no flavor innovation with hummus over the last year.”

Marketing & Merchandising
Consumers typically have a routine and use hummus as a dip and as a sandwich spread. 

“We’ve found that many pair hummus with vegetables, pita chips and corn chips,” Pavlica says. “For others, hummus is used as a flavorful source of protein and moisture on sandwiches and wraps.”

Given the variety of uses, retailers can increase basket ring by creating snack and easy meal solutions using hummus, she says. 

“Hummus is also a great addition to foodservice, adding layers of flavor and nutrients to offerings sought by the growing number of flexitarians,” Pavlica says.

As far as sizing, during the pandemic, larger sizes of hummus became more popular. 

“However, consumers eat hummus so regularly that smaller formats allow them to add excitement to their routine by changing flavors,” Pavlica notes.

Hummus has been trending since the 90’s and continues to gain popularity as healthful eating has become the norm.

“This trend has continued to gain popularity,” Tsakirellis says. “The Mediterranean diet includes many healthy foods, including hummus, which is protein and fiber packed.”

There are a variety of ways to add visibility to this category. Cross merchandising definitely increases register rings.

“Top recommendations are items that would complete a charcuterie board,” Tsakirellis says. “This is a very popular trend right now and can be used when having friends over for dinner to parties. Other items that go great with hummus are dippers like pita or naan.”

There are many ways to market hummus, since it goes with a wide variety of deli items.

“Connect with shoppers; many are passionate about specific flavors,” Fuller at Sabra recommends. “Hummus is highly versatile and pairs perfectly with any carrier from more traditional pita chips or carrots to anything you might find in the deli or produce section from pretzels to sliced peppers or jicama. There is no wrong way to love hummus. 

People are focusing on hummus as an alternative protein to meat products.

“People use hummus as good protein and, because it’s healthier, it’s a go-to for snacking and lunches,” Schwehm says. “People aren’t’ doing three meals a day as much as snacking throughout the day.”

She recommends drawing attention to these products with in-store signage and shelf talkers.

“Many people may go into the deli and not have hummus on their list but walking around they can be inspired to pick it up,” Schwehm says. “We want to create an in-store experience to remind them of our hummus.”


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