Seaweed pellets can be made into straw to replace plastic. Zero-emission electric cars built specifically for delivery. Vegetarian meat alternatives made with jackfruit. Bottled water and aluminum cans are made from recycled materials and are more likely to be recycled.
These are some of the sustainable solutions restaurant operators can find at the National Restaurant Association showroom in Chicago this weekend.
Sustainability has been an ongoing topic for many exhibitors, with a growing sense of urgency about climate change this year. The show floor was filled with plant-based products, from Ripple’s vegan soft service (Premium), which won a Food & Beverage Award, or FABI, this year, to new vegan-like chicken nuggets from Impossible Food, the company. The first foray into the poultry category.
The attraction of the masses were several examples of “muscle meat” plant protein products, such as the Future Farm Chicken, which behaves like chicken breast nuggets. Beyond Meat has been sampling a steak-like product that can be marinated as teriyaki or taco.
The Korean company that makes Nasoya tofu bites was also introducing a new Korean vegetarian steak under the Plantspired brand, which is currently used in its 200-unit WaBa Grill chain, based in Anaheim Hills, California.
Several competitors to market leaders Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have been trying to develop next-generation alternatives.
“We are a real food company that makes plant-based products,” said Jackie Kim, Brand Manager for Plantspired. “There are a lot of labs that have gone into this space now.”
Sustainable packaging was also featured in various forms throughout the show floor, with many compostable options. Most of those advertised products that did not contain added PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which have been linked to health issues. Regulations to phase out the use of added PFAS in food service packaging will soon take effect in many states, including California, New York, Maine, Vermont, Washington, Connecticut and Minnesota.
Here is a look at five sustainability solutions spotted on the show floor: