Announcements of new meatless offerings throughout the foodservice industry often center on one of these suppliers, like Burger King’s storewide rollout of its Impossible Whopper in August. But there are other ways operators can incorporate plants into their proteins using in-house recipe generation.
B.Good, a health-forward bowl, salad, and burger chain, unveiled new flexitarian burgers in October, offering three new plant-based veggie patties and one new plant-forward blended option all made in-house. The lineup includes chickpea falafel, quinoa, and beet-pineapple burgers, and the Turkey Medley, a ground turkey and mushroom patty.
“I think the companies out there that are trying to create these new options are driven by some very good causes in trying to improve the balance in people’s diet and also lessen environmental impact,” CEO Chris Fuqua says. “From the B.Good perspective, we want to adhere to our ‘from the farm and not the lab’ principle, and so we decided not to include something that’s trying to be like meat.”
The Turkey Medley burger is a mixed patty promoted by The Blended Burger Project, a partnership between the James Beard Foundation and the Mushroom Council designed to encourage chefs to create more sustainable burgers using at least 25 percent mushrooms in the meat mix. Mushrooms are the key ingredient in a blended patty due to their taste—the fungi can easily masquerade as meat when cooked correctly—and sustainability. In 2017, SureHarvest’s “Mushroom Sustainability Story” report found that growing 1 pound of mushrooms requires only 1.8 gallons of water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the production of a quarter-pound hamburger uses around 460 gallons.
While an Impossible or Beyond patty may share the taste of beef for consumers aiming to eat less meat, a blended patty also cuts down on meat consumption without any taste substitution, offering a method of decreasing meat on a menu that Mushroom Council menu strategist Steve Solomon says is one of the best paths for quick serves.
“A blended burger is endemic to your brand. Each blend is actually proprietary, so it’s not a product that was made by somebody else. This is something that you can do that syncs up with your identity,” he says.
Taste is arguably the most important area of concern for concepts caught in the crosshairs of the plant-based movement. Looking for the best approach or partner that will support a brand’s reputation is crucial—texture and flavor profile must stay consistent with the rest of the menu.