Meatless takes on steak, foods made with seaweed and beverage options designed to appeal to both drinkers and non-drinkers were among the top trends on display at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. More than 2,100 manufacturers and suppliers displayed their wares across more than 11 football fields worth of exhibit space. Here’s a look at some of the products that stood out:
Plant-based protein raises the steaks
Plant-based products have been a mainstay of the National Restaurant Association Show for many years now. Each year brings new meat alternatives to taste as the technology behind plant-based based protein continues to evolve. Last year, new chicken and egg alternatives flooded the show floor. Steak was on the menu this year, and several brands showed off meatless products that impressively mimicked the look, taste and texture of whole cuts of beef.
Beyond Meat debuted its Beyond Steak in October last year, and the wheat gluten and faba bean protein-based product was recently certified by the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Food Certification Program. Beyond Steak was one of several plant-based steak products honored in this year’s National Restaurant Association Show FABI Awards, which celebrate forward-thinking new products. The Mongolian Plant-Based Steak from Alchemeat and NASOYA’s Plantspired Korean BBQ Steak also took home FABI Awards.
Plant-based protein brand Meati won a FABI Award for its new chicken alternative made from mushroom root, the Classic Cutlet, and the company’s product line also includes two cuts modeled after beef – Classic Steak and Carne Asada.
Newcomer Chunk Foods made its National Restaurant Association Show debut this year with a soy- and wheat-based steak alternative that show attendees could sample with a topping of chimichurri.
A sea of seaweed products
Foods made with seaweed and other types of algae showed up on many 2023 food trend forecasts, and the prediction certainly played out at the National Restaurant Association Show.
Season Brand showed off its Caviart Black Seaweed Pearls – a vegan caviar replacement made from algae. The Denmark-made product has been available at retail for several years, and Marketing Manager Sara Kelly said the brand is looking into its viability for foodservice.
Blue Evolution, which launched in 2015 with a line of packaged seaweed pasta, pivoted to foodservice two years ago and currently offers several types of kelp grown by its seaweed farm partners in Alaska and California.
Hailing from the East Coast, Atlantic Sea Farms works with waterfront communities in Maine to help establish new kelp farms. The company offers products for both retail and wholesale, including full-leaf raw kelp, fermented seaweed salad and sea-veggie burgers made with kelp and chickpeas. In addition to its own line of food ingredients and products, Atlantic Sea Farms also supplies seaweed to straw and utensil company Loliware for its line of seaweed-based straws.
Adaptable beverages everyone can toast to
Alcohol-free beverages are another growing trend at the National Restaurant Association Show, and this year exhibitors showcased a bevy of options that can be customized to suit a range of needs.
Mingle Mocktails offers a range of sparkling beverages in flavors such as Cranberry Cosmo and Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini that can be enjoyed on their own or mixed with alcohol. The customizable format makes for “a drink where everyone can be part of the party,” Head of Operations Drew Taylor said.
Twisted Alchemy also bills its products as ones that can be consumed with or without alcohol. Its line of cold-pressed juices and cocktail mixers can be used as the base for traditional cocktails, mixed with non-alcoholic spirits or combined with sparkling water or other juices.
Coca-Cola won a FABI Award this year for its new Simply Mixology line of juice beverages designed to work alone or in combination with spirits. The Strawberry Guava Mojito, Lime Margarita and Peach Sour flavors were on display at the company’s booth, and show attendees could sample several alcohol-free cocktails created with Ritual Zero-Proof nonalcoholic spirits.
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