These days, everywhere you look there seems to be a new use for cauliflower. Often utilized as a gluten-free, low-carb alternative, the versatile, mild-tasting vegetable has gained popularity as cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower gnocchi, mashed cauliflower, and on and on.
In 2018, The New York Times NYT +2.7% documented cauliflower’s ascension, but even since then, the trend hasn’t lost steam. Last year, Food Business News reported on the acceleration of cauliflower’s popularity. Two months ago, Chipotle announced a cilantro-lime cauliflower rice option at U.S. and Canadian restaurants—and just recently, Red Robin added cauliflower wings and a cauliflower pizza crust option to their menu for a limited time.
Riding that cauliflower wave, Ronili Foods, LLC launched Cauli Crunch, their brand of breadcrumb alternative made from (you guessed it) cauliflower, in August 2020. Evan W. Singer, the president of Ronili Foods, LLC, says that the goal was to create a product that mimicked traditional wheat breadcrumbs but offered a healthier nutritional profile.
“We had to find and blend ingredients that would give similar functionality, such as crunch and coating-ability, while also delivering on flavor,” Singer says. “Health seekers are always on the lookout for more nutritious alternatives to wheat, dairy, and animal-based products, without sacrificing taste or texture. Cauli Crunch was developed to meet the customers where they are.”MORE FOR YOUA Food Entrepreneur’s Advice For Equity CrowdfundingWhy Kroger’s Store Closures And Hazard Pay Reaction Are So UnsettlingAlternative Meats Bringing Uncertain Future For Cattle Farmers
Cauli Crunch’s base ingredients are dried cauliflower and rice crumbs, which themselves are made from a mixture of rice flour, raisin juice, and sea salt. Singer says they evaluated the nutritional and physical properties of several ingredients in order to find the ones that could “provide the right amount of crunch and stand up to the breading and then cooking process.”
He explains, “It was crucial that Cauli Crunch featured a clean ingredient deck that could double as both a crunchy topping and a binder for recipes, as is the case with meatballs and meatloaf.” A suitable move considering that clean labels and natural ingredients seem to be more in demand than ever as consumers seek transparency while deciding what products to use and put in their bodies.
Gluten-free breading may not be new with people using almond flour, coconut flour, and coconut flakes as alternatives and brands like Schär and Michelle Farms selling packaged gluten-free breadcrumbs. For additional context, MarketsandMarkets reported that the global gluten-free products market size is estimated to rise from about 5.6 billion USD in 2020 to nearly 8.3 billion USD by 2025. But Cauli Crunch isn’t just gluten-free.
“We analyzed the marketplace and saw that there was no product quite like ours—so we decided to fill the void,” Singer says. “Our analysis showed a niche marketplace position for an all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, kosher, and plant-based bread crumb alternative. Since our three unique flavors contain no soy, corn, dairy, nuts, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors we saw it as a perfect match for the largest natural foods retailer in the country.”
At the moment, Cauli Crunch is available for purchase through the product’s website, Whole Foods Market WFM 0.0%, and Amazon AMZN +1.6%. Singer says that they’ve already introduced Cauli Crunch to several other regional and national grocery chains throughout the country, and hope to one day expand on the interest they’ve received from other countries.
Singer shares that since the product’s launch, they have done in excess of $200k in gross sales, and they’re conservatively projecting to do a multiple of five times that in 2021.
“Today’s health food market is responsible for catering to a wide range of diets, including vegan, gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, and all-natural,” says Singer. “Cauli Crunch’s priority is to address as many dietary restrictions as possible to ensure the widest reach with health food customers.”