For suppliers of herbs and garlic, cooking shows are seen as priceless marketing tools.
“I always tell people to go to places like YouTube. You’ll find many videos of people that teach how to store fresh herbs, how to cook chicken and fish with fresh herbs, and they’re not the highly professional cooks or anything,” said Camilo Penalosa, a partner in Infinite Herbs & Specialties, Miami.
Constant exposure in TV kitchens puts home cooks at ease with items, Penalosa said.
“That makes people comfortable to see that anyone can use them and shows its not difficult to cook with fresh herbs. Anybody can do it,” he said.
Don’t count out more traditional educational tools, though, said Louis Hymel, purchasing and marketing director for Orlando, Fla.-based Spice World Inc.
“Cookbooks, recipe cards, in-store demos, chefs cooking shows along with magazine articles,” he said.
Garlic, of course, is a central ingredient in a lot of chefs’ demonstrations on TV, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing with Gilroy, Calif.-based garlic grower-shipper Christopher Ranch.
“Garlic is often featured in the popular food TV shows, and rarely do you see the powdered or jar form,” Ross said.
Chefs also love to work with live audiences too, and they get plenty of opportunities to do that, said Jim Provost, a co-owner of West Grove, Pa.-based I Love Produce LLC, which specializes in garlic, ginger and shallots.
“The industry has been doing a lot of promotion with chefs,” he said.
He cited chef demonstrations at trade shows like the Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit as examples.
“You’ll see chefs showing people how to cook with garlic and a lot of the garlic companies that are exhibiting garlic,” he said.
Provost also credited the food-focused TV broadcasts for having spread the word about his products.
“You see a lot of promotion of garlic and ginger with these cooking shows, so I think people are learning how to use garlic from just watching Food Network,” he said.
The shows are helping ginger gain a strong following, Provost said.
“Ginger reminds me of the garlic category 20 years ago, where people are starting to discover it,” he said. “They look at it as an exciting flavor.”
Ginger still has some distance to go to catch up with garlic, but it’s trending upward, and TV exposure is a major reason, Provost said.
“Because of the flavor and health benefits of it, I see maybe the growth of it, maybe it will be in 20 years where garlic is now,” he said.
The learning tools are ready and available for anybody who wants to experiment in the kitchen, said Bruce Klein, marketing director with Secaucus, N.J.-based Maurice A. Auerbach Inc.
“I guess all these consumers that are watching all these chef shows, and cookbook sales are up, so that’s probably the best two ways of educating the consumer,” he said.
Beyond broadcasts, there are other tools available, said Tim Heydon, CEO of Shenandoah Growers Inc., Harrisonburg, Va.
Heydon said point-of-sale promotions and materials, eye-catching displays and packaging all can be used to educate consumers.
“Point of sale is very important to effectively and concisely communicate the message on cue,” he said.