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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Newer Trends In BBQ Sweep America: Rufus Teague CMO Talks Trends

Food has become something of a badge of honor for today’s youngest consumers. While Janis Joplin may have crooned for her Mercedes Benz, Gen Z and Millennials are looking for everyday experiences that allow them to live their best lives.

The emergence of food as a form of self-expression has taken on new meaning during the Covid-19 pandemic as the availability of new food experiences has been constrained. Travel is more challenging. Concerts and festivals have been negatively impacted.

Bonding with friends and fun, new flavors in food and alcohol are the current rage with young consumers who still relish the opportunity to connect with friends and fly their personal brand flag using food as a piece of that flag.

Just ahead of the opening of grilling season, I sat down with Brad Jungles, head of marketing at Rufus Teague to learn more.

Jeff Fromm: How will the 2022 grilling season look different?

Brad Jungles: When the pandemic set in early in 2020, it forced people to stay home and spend more time cooking. Much of that resulted in increased grilling and taking a renewed interest in stay-at-home barbecue. We anticipate this trend continuing over the next couple of years as grillers look for new flavors and techniques as they expand the recipes they are creating. This is great timing for brands that have a wide range of sauces and seasonings for consumers to experiment with.

Fromm: What are the big flavor trends we should anticipate?

Jungles: Sauces play a big role in barbecue and grilling flavor trends. Traditionally, different regions of the US would stick close to the BBQ sauce flavors and styles that originated in their area. However, there has been a slow movement toward these flavors crossing over and being enjoyed by all. While people in Kansas City still love the sweet and smoky tomato-based sauces, there are now more and more Carolina-style vinegar and mustard-based options being tried.

We also see a trend where BBQ sauce flavors are expanding into areas with different fruits and spices. The tried-and-true combination of smoky, sweet, and savory is still the standard go-to, but sauces made with bourbon or chipotle peppers are gaining in popularity. There is also an uptick in Korean-style BBQ sauces which are sweet, savory, and spicy with flavors of fruit and ginger.

Fromm: How do you think Gen Z will approach grilling differently?

Jungles: We see Gen Z embracing the idea of ​​grilling/barbecue because it’s often a more fun and social way to cook. And while this group still enjoys the classic BBQ flavors, they typically look for cleaner labels on the sauces and spices they use. Natural ingredients, sugar-free options, and products without GMOs all matter. Aside from the growing use of plant protein, more sustainable and ethically-farmed meat is also a hot button with Gen Z.

Another benefit for these upcoming barbecuers is the variety of grills that are now on the market. Aside from the traditional charcoal and gas grills, the now mainstream pellet grills make it easier than ever for Gen Z’ers to be backyard pitmasters and smoke their own meats.

Fromm: What plant-based options are emerging?

Jungles: Plant-based foods are appearing everywhere. Nearly every meat is being re-imagined with plant protein. While the texture and flavors have come a long way in a short while, many times grilling or adding a sauce can make these foods taste much more like authentic BBQ.

In fact, we are currently working with a company — The Very Good Butchers — who are creating plant-based ribs and using our BBQ sauces to coat them. This is a win-win for those who are trying to cut back or exclude meat from their diet and still want to enjoy the comfort foods they love.

Fromm: Where do you think barbecue is headed?

Jungles: What used to be a singular type of food and a style of cooking is now embraced as an overarching flavor profile. BBQ. You can find BBQ flavors in everything from chips to pizzas to whiskey. And this popularity keeps growing.

With the recent explosion of TV shows like “BBQ Pitmasters” and an endless stream of home barbecuers “meat-bragging” across every social platform, interest in American BBQ and grilling is now becoming very popular around the globe, especially in Asia and Europe.

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