New plant-based options
The show floor has a lot of plant-based substitutes, of course, but the options are moving beyond the pea protein of big brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat and traditional meatless center-of-the-plate items such as tofu and tempeh. Pictured here are fish analogs made out of konjac root and rolled into sushi from Boldly Sushi.
There are several displays of American and Japanese wagyu beef, the highly marbled Japanese cattle breed that sells for a premium price, as well as imported and domestic Iberico pork (the latter is being raised in Texas), and other high-end options such as the premium Prime rib from 2 rivers pictured here.
West African food
A nascent cuisine that is slowly gaining momentum is items from West Africa, such as the stews that are on display by New York City-based Egunsi Foods offered by a Nigerian entrepreneur.
These twisted baked goods are available from many companies this year. Norma Abbattista of J&J Snack Foods Corp., said that the Bavarian pretzel pictured here, which is darker in color and has more complex flavor than many other varieties, are particularly trendy this year.
Labor saving food
Pre-cut miniature desserts from Eli’s Cheesecake is one of many easy-to-use items available for restaurants finding it difficult to stay fully staffed. There was also a lot of par-baked bread, ready-to-heat soups and stews, pre-made freezer-to-fryer empanadas and much more.
This nutritious food, increasingly being called “sea vegetables,” although it’s technically algae, is becoming more popular in part because it is not merely sustainable, but restorative, sequestering carbon and helping to purify the water in which it grows. And since it comes from seawater, no fresh water is required to grow it.
Mushrooms are fungus, not plants, but they are low in calories, full of micronutrients and, although not actually high in protein, nonetheless have a lot of umami flavor and meaty textures that make them hearty meat substitutes, especially since most Americans eat more protein than they need anyway. Meati, a mushroom product shown here, can be used as a burger as well as other entrées.
Meatless and luxurious, truffles are becoming increasingly commonplace at the show, with multiple displays of truffle oil, truffle hot sauce and truffle-studded cheese, among other items.
Consumers are increasingly looking for more pronounced flavors, and younger generations in particular gravitate toward sour items, so it stands to reason that more pickles, such as these from North Star Pickle Company, are available for sampling at the show.
Other plants being plants
Rather than being offered up as meat analogs, many exhibitors are offering plants in fairly pure form, such as Mighty Sesame Co.’s tahini, with a label of one ingredient: sesame seeds. There are also green chickpeas, smoked basmati rice, vegetables packed in oil, and more.