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Cauliflower is the new kale

Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 30 April 2015

“Cauliflower is the new kale.” If that statement left you scratching your head, then welcome to the club. The statement is attributed to Stacy Baas, brand strategist and trend-watcher for Earthbound Farm, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.

Baas draws a comparison with cauliflower to the recent popularity of kale in healthy diets. Baas is further quoted as saying, “Cauliflower has become a go-to gluten-free staple, with cauliflower-crust pizza and cauliflower mac and cheese becoming comfort food alternatives.” Really? Cauliflower mac and cheese? Since when?

Apparently, cauliflower popularity has been on the rise since 2006. I know this because Google watches trends. In fact, you can use Google to research trends.

Try it: Go to Search Google Trends and plug in a keyword, or a combination of keywords, and Google will tell you how many people have searched for that term.

Google doesn’t provide an actual number for the searches but gives a number that is normalized or relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. So the results will be a number between zero and 100.

If you put in keywords “cauliflower” and “mac and cheese,” sure enough, you find this search has quadrupled in popularity over the past 10 years. However, if I search “cauliflower” with “kale,” I find kale’s popularity also rose nearly parallel to cauliflower. The popularity begins to pull even in about November 2014.

So what does that have to do with a forage producer? Trend-watching can help producers predict future market opportunities. It’s not a crystal ball and is pretty useless if you’re trying to track hay prices on any given day. But watching the trends and understanding patterns within the trends can help you predict how any given event might impact the market.

It’s like working with a horse: You can’t read the horse’s mind, but if you get familiar with the horse and observe how it reacts under certain circumstances, then you can predict how it will behave in the future.

If, for instance, your slicker was tied behind the saddle and started to slip, slapping the horse’s flanks, then you might compare the horse’s reaction to how the horse might react when it comes time to carry a sick calf across your lap while in the saddle.

Like the slicker, the calf is going to shift with movement, and the horse is going to perceive the shift and react in a similar pattern. That way, when you end up in the hospital with broken ribs from being bucked off, you can at least say, “I should have known better.”

A trend works the same way. You watch hay pricing trends for patterns in relation to events (like weather, global stressors, crude oil availability, corn prices, technology, milk prices), and you learn to predict how hay prices will react and then use that to your own best marketing advantage.

In April, Progressive Forage Grower began providing a market trend update on our website (Charting hay market trends) that lists average prices received in four regions of the U.S. Its purpose is to track average hay prices on a monthly basis over a period of time and identify key factors that may influence the market trend.

While it won’t give you today’s hay prices, it provides an opportunity to study hay market patterns and reasonably predict trends.

Some producers may argue that a certain amount of marketing ability is gained with experience and time, and I don’t discount that. But I would argue that experience and time have not prepared producers for today’s global market fluidity, technology leaps and quirky consumer demands.

So take your forage experience and invested time with you, but add the trending numbers, patterns and current factors to your market analysis.

And if you buy in to the cauliflower trend with cauliflower-crust pizza, I can pretty well guarantee I will lose your dinner invitation.

Don’t wait for me.  FG


Lynn Jaynes
  • Lynn Jaynes
  • Editor
  • Progressive Forage Grower