Pickles Have Taken Over the Michigan Craft Food Industry

Where it all began for Michigan's craft pickle industry.

Unless you’re a pickle aficionado, you may be surprised to learn that before Michigan was known as the apex of the automotive industry, it was the capital of the pickle industry. Michigan ranks as the number one state for pickling cucumbers, with over 35,000 acres strictly devoted to them. That’s why most of the pickle giants you know are based straight out of the mitten state.

Rise of Craft Pickles

Take a stroll down your supermarket’s pickle aisle. You’ll notice that the days of classic dill and bread and butter pickles are behind us. Artisanal flavors such as Bloody Mary, Sweet Bourbon, or Smokey Habanero have asserted their dominance on shelves next to the old-time classics. Since being declared as 2018’s Hottest Food Trend, pickle-flavored food items are commonly used as marketing tactics because they’re shocking and exciting, making consumers drawn to them. Companies like Sonic and Skinny Pop took advantage of this with the pickle slushie and dill pickle-flavored popcorn. Look hard enough and you can find pickle-flavored vodka or even candy canes!

Pickles are #trendy! Craft pickles evoke an emotional response because they preserve a sentimental tie to Michigan’s past, while also having a trendsetting reputation. According to data from Pinterest, pins of pickle recipes have been saved an average of 114% more in 2018 than in 2017.

Pickles Gain Prominence

Not only are pickles gaining popularity in the supermarket, but on restaurant and bar menus. Compared to five years ago, pickles can be seen on 15% more menus, and are on a total of 40% of all menus in the United States. According to Mintel Menu Insights, there’s been a 71% increase of pickle mentions on menus from 2012-2015. So, why is this?

Restaurant owners and chefs know that with the rise of food bloggers and food network competitions, people are much more invested in their dining experiences, and desire menu items that make for the perfect Instagram-able moment. Plus, buying and eating craft foods make people feel important and special. Chefs realized that they can manipulate the flavors of pickled vegetables in virtually any way to fit their recipes while adding a unique element and bright colors to their dishes. Also with the superfood movement, people are paying greater attention to the foods that benefit their health, and pickle brine has probiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pickle Juice Shots

Pickles have also made their way into the Michigan bar scene with the pickleback shot. Order a shot of Jameson and you might just receive a shot of pickle juice with it. However, the key to the perfect pickleback shot is not just pouring the juice from an empty Vlasic jar. Bar suppliers are ordering customized flavors of pickle brine from craft pickle companies to ensure patrons are receiving a high-quality lifestyle experience.

Pickle Entrepreneurs

Pickle juice shots provide a unique bar and restaurant experience

With craft pickles continually being on the rise, more Michigan-based pickle companies are sprouting up and competing for a share in the market. Starting your own pickle company is easier than it seems, especially if you choose to partner with a pickle co-packer or private label pickle manufacturer. The benefit of partnering with a private labeling company is the ability to dictate the level of involvement they have within your company. Some help with a label design, brand development, and getting your company ramped up and ready to sell. To be able to start your own pickle brand, you must check off all of the requirements from the FDA. Partnering with a pickle co-packer or private label company makes passing these requirements faster and easy!

Pickles are proof that with a little creativity and imagination, something old can be gold!

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