Thursday, June 26, 2008

Survey Says Consumers Get More Mileage Out of Cupboard Staples

In a recent survey1 by Cargill, nearly 60 percent of respondents directly attributed increases in the cost of gas and food to their eating out less. In addition, the Food Marketing Institute recently found that economic concerns are compelling more than 70 percent of Americans to cook at home and eat out less often at restaurants.2 At the same time, consumers today are seeking unique sensory experiences such as meals with bold or unexpected flavors or delicious aromas, according to a report by Information Resources Inc.3 Many consumers are finding a “happy medium” by returning to the basics when cooking at home — and getting more mileage out of time-honored cupboard staples.

“Over the last few years, consumers have become accustomed to luxurious flavors through travel, restaurants and televised cooking shows. But now, even though tough economic times may call for eating at home more frequently, most people don’t want to sacrifice taste. They are discovering that one of the easiest and most economical ways to recreate a great flavor experience is to go back to some of the basics — like using salt and other seasonings — right at home,” said Kari Goldsmith, marketing manager, Cargill, maker of Diamond Crystal® kosher salt.

“Salt is the most economical item in the kitchen,” says Chef Kent Rathbun, of Abacus and Jaspers restaurants. “When I don’t have Diamond Crystal® kosher salt available, I feel my recipes are not 100 percent. I’m lost without it. I like the way it combines with the other seasonings in a dish, as the salt gives those seasonings added flavor as well as great texture.”

Created through a patented process, Diamond Crystal® kosher salt is popular among professional chefs for its exceptional texture, smooth blendability and pure, flavor-enhancing quality. Its coarse, pyramid-shaped crystals can be crumbled between the fingertips for precise seasoning, bringing out the true flavor of delicious food.

Stranded on a desert island? Please pass the salt.
Following are other findings from Cargill’s recent survey:
Salt was chosen over pepper by an almost two-to-one margin (61 percent vs. 34 percent) as the seasoning Americans would take to a deserted island, if they could choose only one of the two ingredients.

When asked to name the cupboard staple they couldn’t live without in their kitchen, nearly one-third of Americans (31 percent) said salt, followed by sugar (26 percent), pepper (19 percent) and flour (13 percent).

The South leads the nation in the percentage of people (30 percent) who say they “can’t live without salt and use it all the time,” compared with 25 percent in the West, 24 percent in the Northeast and 22 percent in the North Central region of the United States.

When it comes to trying to avoid bad luck by throwing salt over their shoulder when they spill it, women admit to being more superstitious than men, with 26 percent of women saying they do it, compared with just 16 percent of men.

Forty-one percent of Americans say they use kosher salt in seasoning rubs or in dried seasonings rubbed on meat, and 32 percent say they use it for brining or soaking meat in a salt water solution.

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