2015 will be the year of hummus

chick pea paste

Hummus, the centuries-old Middle Eastern bean paste, is ready for its close-up. According to a report released by food industry trend-trackers Baum and Whiteman, hummus will emerge as America’s “it” food in 2015.  “Once a niche product here, eaten primarily by Arab and Israeli immigrants,” says the report, hummus is matching the meteoric trajectory of Greek yogurt as the nation’s next food fetish.

Hummus’ popularity in the states is rising for a few simple reasons. The light snack aligns with healthy eating. The report confirms this, “Hummus is high in protein and fiber and low in fat, so it touches lots of dietary bases.”

hummus-ice-creamNext, it tastes great.  Every hummus lover knows that the food’s versatility trumps its bland appearance. Serve it old school with a splash of olive oil and a side of tabbouleh.  Shift its flavor with lemon or extra garlic, some chili, roasted peppers, or nuts. Traditionalists may scoff, but its characteristic mildness is a magnet for culinary creativity – consider the hummus ice cream dreamed up in Tel Aviv!

Then there’s the muscular marketing campaign begun over a year ago by the Brangelina of Big Food – beverage giant Pepsi and the world’s top-selling hummus brand Sabra.

Pepsi owns Israel-based Sabra, and they’ve teamed up on long-term production plans (working with America’s nearly extinct tobacco farmers to make a switch to chick peas). Pepsi packs promotional power and launched an advertising campaign to lure snackers away from salsa. Their plan is working – Sabra hummus is the now National Football League’s “official dip”.

In 2006, 12% of American households bought hummus (most Middle Eastern consumers make hummus at home – it’s a simple process. See a version from Green Prophet’s resident foodie – link here – and another from a Haifa hummus shop – link here). In the US, the paste is pitched as fast food – sold in grocery stores in throwaway plastic containers – famously skewered in a hilarious music video by Arab-American Remy Munasifi (link here).

According to the report, hummus sales reached $800 million in 2012, a massive increase from $16 million in 2006. Today, 20% of US households now buy hummus, and the number is rising in part due to distinct deviations from the chickpea base – Baum and Whiteman cite versions blended with “beet, pumpkin, Thai chili, spinach, artichoke, guacamole, edamame, cilantro chimichurri, and lemongrass.”  (There’s even kale hummus, although the trend report declared kale to be on its way out of foodie favor.)

So as Remy’s video presaged, 2015 will be “all about that paste”.

Image of hummus from Shutterstock

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