NEW YORK— During the last few years, sheet pan meals gained favor with consumers. These home cooks, both novice and advanced, turned to sheet pans for ease of use. These pans could accommodate multiple foods, from fish and chicken to vegetables and starches, on one pan, making it easy to cook a full meal while turning attention elsewhere and making clean-up an easy feat, too.
But now, there is a new trend that is picking up steam in the cookware market that could rival the popularity of sheet pan cooking— divided pans. While these products aren’t all new— some have been around for several years— the products are catching the eyes of consumers who continue to look for new ways to optimize their time in the kitchen. But, will they replace the sheet pan meal that consumers have turned to for the last few years?
Raj Nagrani, sales director, designer and co-founder of MasterPan, said he doesn’t think divided pans will be used in lieu of sheet pans to create meals, but will allow home cooks more alternatives to cooking at home.
“I don’t think they are the new sheet pan or can replace the sheet pan but more just an added option for the busy consumer for healthy cooking but with extra options of now being able to cook several foods at the same time on a different heat source versus just in an oven. With our pan, you can cook a full meal for up to four people without having everything spilling over each other,” he said.
Jennifer Dalquist, evp/sales and marketing at Nordic Ware, agreed that divided pans are gaining traction in the market and believes the pans appeal to more than just those looking to make easy meals on a time constraint.
“Divided pans target several different needs,” she explained. “One of these is for people who are going for the minimalist lifestyle and who just want one or two pans that can do everything. Divided pans also seem to appeal to people who heat a lot of leftovers and don’t like heating stuff in the microwave. They’re also good for people who don’t want to wash two or three separate pans after cooking.”
Dalquist also said that divided pans can actually help home cooks in a safe and practical way, too, as food allergies and intolerances, as well as different dietary lifestyles, are top-of-mind with consumers. This can be an issue when creating meals at home, but an issue that can be solved with the use of divided pans.
“These pans can help make meals for families with picky eaters. For example, if adults want chicken to have spicy sauce on it, but a child would prefer plain chicken with no sauce, it can still be made in the same pan. And, with food intolerance/allergies, it can help to keep foods and sauces away from each other, allowing more than one meal to be cooked at once,” she said.
Manufacturers agree that these pans may shine the spotlight on the cookware segment, attracting both new customers as well as those who are looking for a bit of creativity in the kitchen.
“These pans might encourage audiences who haven’t made the commitment to a mid-priced piece of cookware to try it out,” said Dalquist.
Added Nagrani, “You can tell it has definitely stirred attention in the cookware industry, simply by seeing some of the major brands out there designing and adding on multi-section pans to their product lines. I think that multi-section pans are no longer just a novelty.”
Nagrani noted that the cookware industry has also improved on the quality, coatings and workmanship surrounding the manufacture of these pans.