2018 Food Trends: Protein-based salads reflect latest flavour trends

Meijer is serving up more options for summertime mealtimes with the addition of five protein-based salads to the deli case.

Rolling out to all of the supercenter chain’s stores in six Midwest states, the new salads include Nashville hot chicken salads, Korean barbecue chicken salad, lemon dill tuna salad, Brussels sprout and broccoli slaw salad and Asian slaw.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer said that when creating the protein-based salads, which are designed to simplify summer meal prep and entertaining, its test kitchen chefs blended recent trends in flavor.

For example, Meijer’s Nashville hot chicken salad caters to the spicy craze and includes shredded rotisserie-style chicken, spicy dried chili, sweet pickle relish and tangy buttermilk — a bit of a twist on the combination of rich buttermilk, dried chilies and spices that’s typically sold in fried chicken form and served with a pickle. The salad can be served cold or warm as a high-protein side or used for sandwiches, wraps, pitas and garden salads.

Similarly, the Korean barbecue salad brings a sweet-and-spicy flavor with a sauce of fermented chilies, honey, ginger, soy and toasted sesame oil. Eaten cold or warm, the salad contains shredded rotisserie-style chicken, Asian barbecue flavors, red bell pepper, sweet mango, green onion and toasted sesame seeds. It can be served on its own or go on a sandwich, garden salad or tacos.

The lemon dill tuna salad provides customers with a lighter option for a side dish or main dish, Meijer said. As an alternative to chicken, the non-mayonnaise salad combines albacore tuna with fresh herbs and a light lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Meijer, too, is catering to vegetarian tastes with the Brussels sprout and broccoli slaw salad and the Asian slaw. The crispy Brussels sprout and broccoli slaw eschews the traditional mayo base of slaw with a combination of fresh-shaved Brussels sprouts and broccoli, sweet apple chunks, shaved Parmesan cheese, walnuts and a sweet-and-smoky vinaigrette dressing. The salad can be eaten atop flatbreads or added to a garden salad.

A kale-based salad, the Asian contains a colorful mix of sweet red bell peppers, almonds and cilantro, with a sweet onion vinaigrette dressing. It can be used as a “green” side option, Meijer said, as well as on flatbreads, tacos and wraps.

Both of the vegetarian salads also could provide a Meatless Monday dinner option, added Meijer, which operates 235 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

The deli represents one area where supermarkets are trying to up their game in fresh foods.

In its “Early View 2018” report on first-quarter food trends, market researcher IRI noted that U.S. consumers are showing a renewed interest in “fresh prepared” items that are time-friendly. They’re also paying more attention to the ingredients in the foods they eat and favoring at-home food options.

And while consumer packaged goods saw flat sales overall in the quarter, the perimeter departments showed some resilience, up 1.4% in dollar sales year over year. Among categories, deli prepared sales were up 1.8% in dollars, with seafood (+2.1%) and produce (+1.6%) also seeing solid gains, IRI reported.

Source: Meijer rolls out protein-based salads