Home Grillers Aim To Improve Cooking Experience

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the majority of the country to stay at home amid various versions of governmental regulations, year-round outdoor grilling continued to trend high among consumers.

According to Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s (HPBA) biennial consumer survey, released in March, 75% of owners grill in the winter with 23% taking to their grills on Super Bowl Sunday; 13% on Thanksgiving; and 9% on New Year’s Day. While flavor (68%) is the leading factor as to why consumers are taking their cooking to the grill, HPBA also reported that lifestyle remains a high factor, with 45% of consumer responses selecting that factor.

Add convenience, hobby and the impending warm weather to the list of key factors that are inspiring consumers to engage with their grills more often, industry vendors told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS.

“People want to feel good about their surroundings and the things they can do at home that are fun and a little out of the ordinary. Plus, they want to get outside. If they have a backyard or a patio and can grill, then why not improve that cooking experience with products such as easy to use grilling thermometers and tools,” said Ed Mackin, president, Maverick Industries.

“With the pandemic and rise of social distancing, it means more home cooked meals and as the weather improves more family backyard barbecues,” said Paul Cira, president and founder, Proud Grill Company. “In addition, pellet smokers and a trend back to charcoal means added time and resources to the craft of outdoor grilling. Add to this the popularity of outdoor kitchens and you have an increase in popularity for grilling.”

Sam Curran, marketing manager at Charcoal Companion, noted that for many consumers, while being sheltered in place they have been focusing on perfecting their craft on the grill and in the kitchen.

“Rather than dining out, consumers have been cooking themselves a quality meal. With extra time on their hands there is no recipe that cannot be completed. In doing so a lot of consumers have been gearing up to take their cooking and grilling game to the next level,” he said.

Vendors in the barbecue and accessories category have a unique opportunity to leverage the interest of both new and seasoned grillers that may be exploring innovative ideas for the grill.

Smart technology is one segment that has fared well especially when it comes to wireless thermometers. Bluetooth enabled thermometers have steadily been introduced and adopted by consumers over several years both for the convenience and advanced temperature measurement capabilities.

Maverick, for example, recently launched the smart-enabled Stake wireless probe thermometer. The Stake is designed to be compatible with the company’s Bluetooth-enabled app to help consumers monitor food temperatures while grilling, in real-time. This allows consumers to step away from the grill while they are cooking. Eight probes can be connected to the app at once.

“Grilling makes people feel better about themselves. And you can improve that experience with the right accessories. Grilling thermometers have evolved big time from years ago, and people like accessories that make them a better chef,” Mackin said.

In addition to welcoming in new temperature measurement technology to their grilling arsenal, grilling enthusiasts are also exploring pellet smokers with renewed interest, as well as returning to charcoal grills and smokers, vendors stated, often leading to consumers purchasing more than one grill for the home.

While barbecue tools and accessories that support a consumer’s grilling aspirations, as well as their health and safety, are certainly drivers in the category, accessories that round out the experience are also growing in awareness.

Accessories that offer consumers a way to add more even flavor to the meal, as well as how they serve the meal are also supporting this year-round grilling trend.

Charcoal Companion, for example, is offering up new accessories that enhance the flavor and experience for a variety of more adventurous cooking experiences such as smoking brisket, ribs or vegetables with its KitchenQue Stovetop Smoker or prepping sides to the main course such as salsa, guacamole or aioli in its Himalayan Salt Mortar & Pestle.

“As we are seeing consumers trying out new techniques and new recipes, it means that consumers are expanding their range of grilling equipment. We feel that this category has a very unique opportunity to see a rise in sales as people at home have the time to finally become the grill master they’ve always wanted to be,” Curran said.

For more on outdoor living, see the May 4, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.