Sprouts account for a small portion of produce sales, and have had some food safety problems. However, they appeal to a more affluent and food-conscious consumer, which can bring benefits to the rest of your produce department.
- Sprouts may be little, but they pack a powerful health punch. Research has found that certain sprouts can help fight cancer. Sprouts can help boost cardiovascular health. Some sprouts contain vitamin A, which is helpful for maintaining healthy eyes and skin. Some sprouts are a good source of vitamin C, which is a known antioxidant that can help prevent cancer.
- Nutrition information varies, depending on the type of sprout.
- Sprouts have plenty of cross-merchandising partners, including salad dressing, croutons, bacon bits, cheese and sandwich bread and buns.
- Sprouts are available year-round so give them some promotional love throughout the year.
- Fall: Promote sprouts as a healthy sandwich topping for football game-day parties.
- Winter: Include sprouts in holiday promotions as a way to spruce up a salad. Include sprouts in Chinese New Year’s promotions.
- Spring: Promote sprouts many health benefits to consumers looking to get in shape for the summer.
- Summer: Add sprouts to summertime grilling promotions as an option for topping those summertime burgers.
- Offer a buy one, get one promotion to encourage consumers to try a different type of sprout. While alfalfa sprouts are the most familiar, other sprouts offer great flavors.
- Offer a variety of different sprouts. Clearly label them and offer some serving information to educate consumers about their different uses.
- Alfalfa sprouts are white with green tops. They are what most consumers think of when they think of sprouts.
- Clover sprouts are greener than alfalfa sprouts and are popular in foodservice because of their greener color.
- Garlic sprouts are generally a bit more expensive because they cost more to grow. They have a garlic flavor.
- The best-tasting lentil bean sprouts are the brown or reddish varieties. They have a peppery flavor and contain protein, vitamin B, iron and phosphorous.
- Mung bean sprouts have small, light yellow leaves, a silvery white shoot and a root that may be slightly darkened. They have a crisp, nutty flavor.
- Onion sprouts carry an oniony taste and are green and white.
- Pea sprouts are tan and add flavor to soups, salads or sandwiches.
- Pumpkin seed sprouts can add a light pumpkin flavor to salads, soups and even bread.
- Radish sprouts offer the same spicy flavor as their full-grown counterparts.
- Salad sprouts are a mix of sprouts designed to add flavor to salads. They are a combination of alfalfa sprouts, radish sprouts, mung bean sprouts, lentil sprouts and wheat sprouts.
- Soybean sprouts have a similar flavor to mung bean sprouts. However, soybean sprouts have a stronger flavor because they contain more chlorophyll.
- Sunflower sprouts have a mild, sweet flavor similar to the taste of alfalfa sprouts.
- Three-bean sprouts are a mixture of lentil sprouts, adzuki bean sprouts and pea or mung bean sprouts.
- Wheat sprouts have a nut-like flavor, which is good in breads, cakes, cookies, soups and salads.
- Mixing seeds together enhances the flavor results in flavored sprout combinations. Some common combinations include: alfalfa with radish sprouts, alfalfa with onion sprouts, alfalfa with garlic sprouts, alfalfa with dill sprouts and gourmet sprouts, which is alfalfa with clover, cabbage and fennel.
- Display sprouts in clamshell containers. The clamshells create a neat display, can be clearly labeled and help avoid any mixing of different types of sprouts. Offer a variety of packaging sizes.
- Place sprouts near salad vegetables, but consider offering them with deli items as well.
- Bulk sprouts can create a slipping hazard if they end up on the floor, so if you offer a bulk option, be sure to keep the area around it neat.
- Don’t cook sprouts. They taste best when served raw.
- Include sprouts in salads and on salad bars. They can be messy, so keep a close eye on your salad bar and clean up loose sprouts frequently.
- Use sprouts as a plate garnish and as a bed for an entrée.
- Use sprouts to top sandwiches from deli sandwiches to burgers.
In The Backroom
Living alfalfa sprouts are usually shipped in 4- or 6-oz. containers with 12 containers to a case. A flat of living alfalfa sprouts weighs four pounds. Bean sprouts are available in the same size containers, with an open flat of bean sprouts weighing about five pounds. RPC – 6411, 6413
No official U.S. Department of Agriculture grades exist for sprouts.
Temperature: 34 to 36 F (1 to 2 C) Relative humidity: 90% Mist: no Typical shelf life: Most sprouts 5 to 10 days, sprouted beans up to a month Exposure to heat will cause alfalfa sprouts to rot. Never ice sprouts because they freeze quickly.
- 10% of consumers said they purchased sprouts in the past year.
- Sprouts are more popular in the West and Midwest than they are in the Northeast and South.
- Men and women are equally as likely to purchase sprouts.
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