It is no secret that homebound consumers have been experimenting with new cooking methods, techniques and foods as a comforting and entertaining activity the whole family can enjoy. One relatively new product category generating buzz is the immersion circulator, used for sous vide cooking.
Sous vide, which is French for “under vacuum” and is also known as low temperature long time (LTLT), involves placing food in an airtight plastic pouch and immersing it in circulating water at a low, regulated temperature to retain moisture and ensure even cooking. The immersion circulator is designed to keep the water at the precise temperature while circulating it in and around the food.
“Sous vide cooking is a more precise, temperature-controlled and therefore gentle method of cooking, so it results in better taste, greater nutritional value and better texture, particularly with vegetables,” said Bob Lamson, CEO of Vesta Precision. “While it takes longer than conventional cooking methods, it is also usually much easier and more relaxing because it involves no attention once the sous vide process is underway. It is also time-forgiving, meaning that once the set cooking time is reached it is not necessary to immediately remove the food. Another advantage is that, because of the precision of the immersion circulator, one can achieve the identical perfect results every single time.”
“With increased cooking at home and accompanying attention to healthy meals and quality, the consumer sous vide cooker business has definitely increased,” Lamson added.
“Sous vide cooking has grown during the pandemic, because dinner has become an activity; an entertainment event for the family,” noted Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor for the NPD Group. “Because people have been staying home more, eating more at home and there are fewer nighttime activities, and they have time, more people are experimenting with the idea of sous vide cooking.”
The stay-at-home orders earlier this year spawned a new wave of interest in the low-and-slow cooking method.
“We started seeing sales take off on air fryers and sous vide during these pandemic months, categories that had a market presence, yet were still considered new cooking technologies by consumers,” said Heshy Biegeleisen, founder of Gourmia. “Our feeling is COVID-created cocooning has a lot to do with it, because people have more time on their hands to experiment and experience for themselves. Also, we appeal to a different, more dynamic demographic. This is a market that values craft and authenticity, two hallmarks of the sous vide experience.”
Brentwood vice president Beni Panahi notes that television and social media have played a big role in popularizing the process.
“Between food blogs and food channels there are endless cooking articles and videos being watched and shared,” said Panahi. “With more eyes on this material, immersion cookers have inevitably received more attention and for good reason: Sous vide cooking with immersion cookers removes virtually any opportunity for error. Foods vacuum-sealed in bags and fully submerged in water are cooked evenly all the way through to the precise temperature set. Because the food is completely sealed it retains all its juices, keeping food juicy and flavorful.”
Several companies are ramping up production to take advantage of heightened consumer interest. This fall, for instance, Yedi Houseware is launching the Infinity sous vide, featuring a patented octagonal shape and circulation pattern.
“The direction, flow, and distribution of water movement is both unique and substantive,” said Yedi president Bobby Djavaheri. “The Infinity’s combination of water circulation and octagonal shape creates a more even and precise water flow distribution. More specifically, ‘Octcision Technology,’ with eight sides and four perforated openings, pushes heated water against the side and throughout the container that holds the device in a way that avoids cool spots and uneven water distribution, creating increased precision and accuracy within the cooking process.”
Anova Culinary is offering WiFi- and Bluetooth-connected models for the consumer market.
“When we launched our first device in 2013, most sous vide devices were bulky, costly and could only be used by the pros,” said Anova communications manager, Austin Lewis. “We wanted to share sous vide cooking with consumers because it gives the home cook unparalleled control over temperature. We believe that type of control and precision, and the results that come with it, is what is appealing to consumers.”
“As more people are staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19, they’re also cooking at home for themselves and their loved ones,” Lewis added. “The trend is undeniable. People want to continue to cook better, eat better and ultimately live better through the food that they prepare. We think it bodes very well for the future of the category and its growth.”
For more on sous vide sales, see the October 12, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.