Snacking is king, and suppliers and their retail partners are betting correctly that fresh, healthy dips and spreads sold in instore deli, produce and other perimeter departments are one of the shining snack category stars.

Phoenix-based Fresh Cravings has seen huge demand for its Honey Jalapeno Hummus, which the company introduced at the 2022 IDDBA show, said Nicole Parker, chief operating officer.

“Customers comment on its unique flavor profile, praising its combination of sweet meets spicy, as well as the creamy texture from our usage of Chilean Extra Virgin Olive Oil,” she said. “This is a major differentiation in the hummus category for our family of hummus products.”

Demand was so strong out of the gate, by just July of last year, Fresh Cravings released a 17-ounce family-sized version of it.

Customers compliment the “innovation and creativity” that Fresh Cravings brings to the hummus category in general, Parker said.

In February, for example, the company rolled out a limited-time-only Pizza Hummus.

“We’re highly engaged with offering our retail partners innovative new flavor profiles, always with the goal of surprising and delighting customers at the shelf edge,” Parker said.

In May, Fresh Cravings rolled out three new items at Walmart: Fire Roasted Red Salsa, Fire Roasted Avocado Salsa, and Everything Bagel Creamy Dip.

Fire Roasted Red Salsa features fire-roasted tomatoes, onions, and peppers all mixed with savory spices. Roasted vegetables add a hint of smokiness and maximum flavor to this elevated recipe, which Parker said is great for traditional salsa-topped dishes or served with chips. 

Fire Roasted Avocado Salsa brings together bold fire-roasted salsa flavors with the creaminess of Haas and tropical avocados. Plus, it has the bright zestiness of roasted tomatillos, fresh cilantro, and a hint of heat from jalapeños. The result, Parker said, is a uniquely tangy yet smoky flavor.

Everything Bagel Creamy Dip, meanwhile, is inspired by the popular bagel seasoning. According to Datassential Q2 “MenuTrends” and “FLAVOR” reports cited by Parker, 63% of all consumers are aware of the Everything Bagel flavor and more than one third (34%) love or like it.

Fresh Cravings’ version is made with a decadent dairy base mixed with flavorful toasted garlic flakes, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and chopped onion.

“‘Schmear’ now has a run for its money, as this new dip satisfies afternoon snacking, whether it’s spread on toast or paired with a favorite dipper like pita chips or fresh vegetables,” Parker said.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2023, Parker said Fresh Cravings is excited to keep experimenting with new dip flavors.

In addition to Pizza, the company recently launched limited-time Dill Pickle and Lemon Dill Hummus flavors. Fresh Cravings also recently expanded its hummus lineup with the addition of Jalapeño Cilantro, Lemon Garlic, and Mediterranean Hummus profiles. 

Parker said Fresh Cravings is also excited about exploring branded collaborations, which are good at bringing newcomers to the shelf edge.

Hummus innovations

The dips and spreads category, particularly hummus, has seen a surge of creativity in recent years, with chefs and home cooks alike creating new uses such as Hummus Toast and creative Grain Bowls, and even featuring hummus as the centerpiece of mezze and charcuterie platters, Parker said.

“We love seeing the versatility of alternative protein sources, especially with that of chickpeas—the core ingredient in our hummus.”

After Whole Foods named chickpeas a key trend it 2021, she added, innovations like hummus chips and chickpea pastas, snacks, and even milks followed. Tahini has also found its way into a range of dips, dressings, and other condiments, although it’s still limited to specialty items and hasn’t quite gone mainstream yet, Parker said, citing Mintel’s Dips and Savory Spreads report from 2022.

Fresh Cravings is also tracking trends in the dips and spreads category where shoppers are looking for easy, convenient, and delicious meal solutions.

That’s why the company partners with eMeals, which creates weekly shoppable meal plans for its subscribers using Fresh Cravings salsas and hummus.

Such partnerships, Parker said, provide the opportunity for retailers  to promote a variety of items across departments, especially in the fresh perimeter category, and help to educate consumers about creative usage occasions.

Top pairings and how to promote them

Data from Fresh Cravings shows that shoppers are most often purchasing Fresh Cravings Hummus with Stonefire Naan Dippers, pita chips, pretzel thins, baby carrots, and other vegetable dippers, which indicates they are looking for items to use for snacking.

With this knowledge, Fresh Cravings then seeks to create engaging collaborations with these complimentary branded items, such as giveaways on social media or co-branded items.