Summer Grilling: ‘Grate’ Ideas for Seasonal Success

Food retailing operations that also carry grills will heavily spotlight those items in summer. It’s been a good time for those departments: More than 14 million grills and smokers were sold between April 2020 and February 2021, according to a new report from The NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y. While many of those items were traditional gas and charcoal grills, sales of products with specialized uses, along with smaller-scale products like pizza ovens and portable grills, also spiked in 2020.

Given last year’s strong performance and an overall growing interest in grilling and barbecuing, equipment manufacturers are adding new models to their portfolios. Palatine, Ill.-based leading manufacturer Weber, for its part, is offering four new “smart grills” for 2021, with a built-in digital tech package that provides real-time food temperatures and readiness countdowns.

Fellow big houseware brand Cuisinart, based in Stamford, Conn., is debuting a pellet grill and smoker with features like a large viewing window and sliding racks. The system allows home cooks to smoke, grill, bake, sear, char-grill, barbecue, braise and roast on one unit, and also includes a backlit LCD control and Wi-Fi remote monitoring via a Cuisinart app.

Tech is a growing part of the grilling and barbecue market. Salt Lake City-based Traeger Grills, known for its wood-pellet grills, came out with a new Apple Watch app that allows users of WiFIRE compatible grills the capability to monitor and control their grilling from their Apple Watch.

Likewise, there are more options in grilling supplies. Oakland, Calif.-based Kingsford, a brand practically synonymous with summer grilling, is introducing 100% hardwood pellets this season, made with all-natural ingredients and no fillers, preservatives or binders. The pellets are available in five flavors: a classic blend of hickory, oak and cherrywood; a blend of mesquite, oak and cherrywood; 100% hickory wood; 100% cherry wood; and 100% maple wood.