Much has been written about “meatless Mondays” and other efforts to encourage a plant-forward diet. But meatless and vegetarian meals have had a limited audience—until now. Today, manufacturers are courting meat eaters and vegetarians alike with “plant-forward” options that replicate meat, and these types of products can be found all over this year’s Show floor.
One of this year’s FABI Award recipients, the Impossible BurgerTM, is made with heme, potato, wheat proteins, and other ingredients, and it tastes and cooks like beef. If the number of Show attendees tasting the sandwich is any indication, it’s a good option for carnivores.
Also look for Pinnacle Foods’ gardein meatballs and Dr. Praeger’s chickenless chicken nuggets. Each exhibitor is sampling several products that qualify as more than just meat substitutes.
Another FABI Award recipient, Venice Bakery is offering samples of its Plant Based Gluten-Free Crusts, made with broccoli and cheddar or seasoned cauliflower, topped with traditional pizza ingredients.
Veggies found their way into snacks as well. For example, FABI Award recipient French Fried Butter Beans from Seascape Foods are battered and fried beans, meant to be an alternative to French fries, and positioned as a snack, appetizer, or side dish.
An interesting substitute worth a taste is WOWBUTTER. It tastes like peanut butter, but it’s nut free with a smooth texture, and the company claims it’s more nutritious than its peanut counterpart.
Descriptors like plant-based and gluten-free are among those that consumers consider to be “better for you.” Consumers increasingly also value items that are natural and organic, which explains the popularity of the Organic & Natural Pavilion.
While natural and organic can sometimes imply local sourcing, many of the trends on display at the Show are global.
For instance, Chicago celebrity chef Rick Bayless opened the World Culinary Showcase with his unique twist on authentic Mexican cuisine. Quartino Executive Chef John Coletta, author of the cookbook Risotto & Beyond, showcased his Italian chops at the Bellavita Italian Pavilion.
And at Kronos Foods Corp.’s booth, try the KronoBROIL® Gyro Slices. This FABI Award product looks and tastes like it was carved from the cone, but operators don’t need the vertical spit broiler (or the staff training, showcasing another trend that many exhibitors are touting—labor savings).
The trend toward authentic global flavors is showcased throughout the entire Global Food Expo in the Lakeside Center, with exhibitors from China to New Zealand to Ecuador, and several countries in between.
In the BAR Pavilion, Showgoers will find several intriguing global influences as well. Wines from Spain can be found in the Quixote’s Wines booth, and FABI Award recipient SomruS Original from SomPriya Fine Spirits, an Indian-inspired liqueur flavored with cardamom, saffron, almond, pistachio, and rose, is on display as well.
Fortunately, local and global don’t need to be mutually exclusive. On Sunday, in the Foodamental Studio, attendees will hear from Chef Dan Solomon of Local Foods, who will focus on creating an authentic Italian dish with local ingredients.
This post is sponsored by The National Restaurant Association®