KANSAS CITY - Grilling is the perfect pandemic cooking solution. It gets people outside, and it provides new options for home cooks who are tired of cooking the same ‘ol, same ‘ol in their indoor kitchens. Fortunately for them, suppliers are there to meet the need with new products perfect for grilling.

Westminster, Colo.-based Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats is timing three product releases specifically with grilling season in mind, said Kay Cornelius, the company’s general manager.

“Hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages are all-time summertime grilling favorites, so we are launching these just in time for summer barbeques,” she said. We also offer a full line of steaks at retailers across the country.”

A steak favorite for grillers, Cornelius believes, is Panorama’s seasoned steaks. No need for fancy recipes, she said: Panorama has done the job for consumers with a classic twist on a Himalayan salt and gourmet pepper seasoned steak line and harissa-seasoned steaks.

“Harissa is one of the hottest flavor trends in 2021,” Cornelius said. “No recipes, no extra ingredients – simply open the package and put it on the grill.” 

Three factors are dovetailing to make organic and grass-fed beef a popular grilling choice, Cornelius said: the surge in learning how to cook, buying foods that are good for health and well-being, and choosing meats that have a positive impact on climate and US ranchers.

“Panorama is perfectly positioned to meet all of these needs,” she said. “People are looking for healthy grilling options – and they want to know their purchases affect family ranchers and the environment right here in the United States. This has caused incredible growth in the popularity of organic grass-fed beef.

This summer, through Panorama’s #grassfedchallenge social media campaign and its Panorama Perspective magazine, which is full of recipes designed specifically for grass-fed beef (it cooks faster so time and temps are adjusted), the company has a great opportunity, Cornelius said, to show how cooking grass-fed beef is easier, adventurous and more convenient and also helps support better health and grassland conservation. 

The commitment to food-as-medicine and good-for-the-planet has created a growing category that retailers want and need, she added. Not only does Panorama have products that its core grass-fed and organic user traditionally use, the company is also launching products for what Cornelius calls the “grass-fed-curious” consumer.

“We know more people want to try grass-fed or organic beef, but they aren’t quite sure how to prepare it or season it. Our seasoned steaks, hot dogs and sausages are all suited perfectly for this summer’s grills. 

Expanding the home-cooking repertoire

Grilling season ’21 will give homebound cooks a chance to expand their repertoires, as the country continues to battle the pandemic, said Mel Coleman Jr., vice president of Golden, Colo.-based Coleman Natural Foods

“This summer we’re excited to see a resurgence of outdoor grilling and gatherings which should bode well for dinner sausage sales,” he said. “Our Budweiser BBQ collection bratwurst will be a popular item enjoyed from Memorial Day to Labor Day and beyond.”

New this spring for Coleman is the company’s first-ever line of premium pork sausage rolls in original and hot flavor profiles, Coleman said. The sausage comes in the familiar 16-oz roll-style and, like all Coleman Natural Foods products, is made with pork sourced from American Humane Certified family farms that raise their animals 100% crate free with no antibiotics or added hormones, ever. The original and hot flavors have all-natural ingredients with no artificial preservatives.

People are looking for new things to cook, and new ways to cook them, which bodes well for an active grilling season, Coleman said.

“Families are preparing as many as 21 meals per week at home, and they’re getting creative with the way they use various proteins,” he said. “Though it is traditionally used for a breakfast protein, sausage rolls can be used in pasta sauce or crumbled pizza toppings, and so much more.”

Coleman Natural Foods also expects strong spring and summer sales for its kielbasa, which Coleman said was popular in fall dishes and remains a popular choice this winter.  this fall and winter with consumers using it in holiday dishes, weekday meals and even appetizers.

With the pandemic still raging, Coleman Natural Foods is making a conscious effort to deliver a value message to its consumers and retail partners, Coleman said.

“Shoppers today want to make sure when they do spend money, they are buying quality food they feel good about feeding their family,” he said. “Consumers want to be confident in where their food is coming from and will be looking for meat products raised and processed in the U.S. on farms that care about the humane treatment of their animals. If consumers spend the extra dollar, they want to spend it for a reason, and we believe that reason is quality and value.”

Grilling 101: a conversation with Andrew Hunter

Supermarket Perimeter recently Zoomed with Andrew Hunter, executive chef for Westminster, Colo.-Niman Ranch, about the upcoming grilling season and grilling in general.

SP: Has grilling increased during the pandemic?

AH: People are getting their grill on, really experimenting and I love that. We of course had the pandemic bread craze, but there’s also been a brisket craze, for example. People I never thought would venture into it are doing so. Being outside during the pandemic is great, and grilling is naturally outdoors. It’s a way to bring people over and have them there. What we’re really craving isn’t restaurants, it’s people.

SP: What gets you excited about grilling?

AH: What I love about grilling is that’s almost become more outdoor cooking. People should think of their grill as their outdoor and not be afraid to use it as such.

SP: What are some of the things you like to cook on the grill?

AH: You really want to do your research before buying, but I would put my name on a Niman brisket. We really believe that the quality of the animal’s life, the way it’s treated, translates to a great eating experience. We really prioritize quality and flavor. When you’re applying direct heat, internal marbling is also really important. Pork butt is also really good on the grill, flank steaks, our sausages, the Niman baby back and St. Louis ribs. Grilling can be as easy or as involved as you want it to be.