Buzzyworthy F&B

This year’s National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago showcased ample examples of noteworthy food and beverage products.

From plant-based shrimp to ready-to-drink coffee, there were a collection of items designed to intrigue customers and help operators take their concepts to the next level.

The following slides offer a glimpse into the most exciting products on display.

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Image credits:New Wave

Brand: New Wave 

Product: Plant-Based Shrimp

This San Francisco-based startup brought one of the more interesting items to the showroom floor with its plant-based shrimp product. Started by Michelle Wolf, an engineer with CPG experience, New Wave is looking to change the way people think about proteins. The plant-based shrimp is made of seaweed and other plant-based ingredients, like mungbean, while maintaining the taste and texture of ocean-caught shrimp. With no shellfish or soy allergens, this product can be consumed by just about anyone, including those on a gluten-free diet. 

New Wave’s plant-based shrimp can be cooked just like ocean shrimp, making it a perfect option for operators who are looking to provide protein substitutes. It also has a longer shelf life, meaning less waste due to spoilage and potentially lower costs.  

Image credits:New Wave

Brand: Locatelli 

Product: Crema Spreadable Cheese 

Locatelli is a centuries-old brand, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still churning out new creations. Its crema spreadable cheeses are an exciting take on familiar tastes. By blending individual cheeses like provolone, taleggio, and pecorino romano with an emulsifier, Locatelli has created a product that is both smooth and bursting with flavor.

The line of crema spreadable cheeses can be used both hot and cold, with the ability to withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees, which gives it all sorts of utility. Operators can use this for sandwiches, charcuterie boards, pastas, flatbreads, and more. By using 100 percent whole pasteurized sheep’s milk, Locatelli has ensured the product is of the highest quality. 

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Citrus House

Product: Sparkling Water & Organic Juice 

Citrus House’s line of sparkling water and organic juices represents a category that is quickly becoming a must watch. Non-alcoholic options are increasingly becoming a must-have on menus, even for those who partake in alcoholic options.

The company imports the fruit they use in their drinks from Mediterranean sources, which makes for a premium product. Blood oranges from Sicily and Calabrian lemons make these beverages top shelf, meaning operators can charge a premium price.

The drinks are a combination of sparkling water and 12 percent fruit juice––no concentrates or added sugars. Each version is also certified organic, making the drinks a perfect option for customers looking for a craft beverage without the addition of processed sugars or alcohol. Flavors include blood orange, grapefruit mandarin, mandarin orange, and blueberry pomegranate.

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Grüvi 

Product: Non-Alcoholic Golden Lager

This Denver-based family-operated brand is looking to make a major splash in the hot non-alcoholic category with the introduction of its Golden Lager, which recently won a gold medal for non-alcoholic beers at the 2022 World Cup Beer Awards. With less than half a percent of alcohol, this lager makes for a great addition to bar menus for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. 

The Golden Lager isn’t the only non-alcoholic beer Grüvi has to offer. With eight different styles up for grabs, the company has produced a handful of options for operators to choose from. Non-alcoholic versions of pale ales, IPAs, weisses, and stouts are all available, and beer isn’t the only category Grüvi is looking to disrupt. Alcohol-free wines are also being produced, with sangria, red, and rosé available for distribution. 

Image credits:Trevor Griner.

Brand: ItalCrust

Product: Par-Baked Pizza Crust 

ItalCrust provides a solution for operators looking to add pizzas and flatbreads to their menus without dedicating valuable space or capital to dough-making machinery. The products are high-quality, handcrafted in Italy, and free of GMOs. The par-baked items are also vegan-friendly and come in gluten-free options.

Another bonus is operational efficiency. By eliminating time spent preparing batches of dough, operators can save money on labor, while expanding their menu. ItalCrust uses ingredients like 00 flour and leverages wood-fired ovens to par-bake its crust. 

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Wamame Foods

Product: Waygu Plant-Based Strips

Plant-based products were everywhere at the National Restaurant Association Show, and they came in all shapes and sizes. Alternatives to shrimp, chicken, pork, and beef all made an appearance, but Waygu takes it a step further.

Waygu plant-based strips are made from 100 percent meatless products, making them a healthy alternative to beef, and vegan-friendly. The strips are also 100 percent gluten free. Like other plant-based innovation, Waygu is a more sustainable option. According to the Good Food Institute, plant-based alternatives to beef generate 1/10th of the greenhouse gas emissions, 1/10th of the land use, and require 99 percent less water to produce.

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Athletic Brewing Co.

Product: Non-Alcoholic Beers

Athletic Brewing has a line of products created to dispel the notion that all non-alcoholic beers have the same unappealing taste. The products, which are available in a handful of styles like IPAs, golden lagers, sours, and stouts, are all crafted with the intent to deliver a high-quality beverage that doesn’t just work well for the non-alcoholic category, but for beer in general. Co-founders Bill Shufelt and John Walker started their operation in Stratford, Connecticut. The brewery is one of two solely non-alcoholic facilities in the world. Since inception, Walker and Shufelt have expanded operations to the West Coast, where they have a second brewery in San Diego. 

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Saucy Gourmet 

Product: Salsa 

Saucy Gourmet showed off its line of fresh salsas at the National Restaurant Association Show. The products offered by Saucy include classic, chipotle, habanero, and verde salsas, which are all fresh with zero sugar added. The lineup was created by chef David Blonsky, who saw a need for the category to be reenergized. Based in Florida, Saucy Gourmet is looking to break into the world of foodservice with their line of fresh, vegan, and gluten-free products. 

Operators and chefs can use these products as a dip, marinade, or a sauce to pair with entrees. Chef Blonsky even has a recipe for Bloody Marys that utilizes Saucy salsas. The company recently introduced industrial size versions of its salsas, readying it for commercial kitchen use.  

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Westrock Coffee 

Product: Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew

Westrock has its hands in every aspect of coffee production, from harvesting coffee beans to importing and exporting and delivering a final packaged product. 

As consumers are looking for alternatives to sugary sodas, ready-to-drink alternatives like Westrock’s cold brew are becoming increasingly popular. The sealed cans offer customers a more sanitary option. 

Image credits:Trevor Griner

Brand: Blind Tiger 

Product: Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

Like plant-based alternatives, non-alcoholic beverages were heavily represented at the 2022 National Restaurant Association Show. Blind Tiger, named after speakeasies during prohibition, stood out its four non-alcoholic cocktails. 

The Pennsylvania-based company created the lineup when their speakeasy in Erie, Pennsylvania, closed its doors at the onset of COVID, back when to-go alcohol sales were not permitted yet. The four cocktails are alcohol-free versions of drinks served at the speakeasy, crafted to mimic the originals.

The four non-alcoholic bottled cocktails available to operators are Bee’s Knees, Sidecar, Southside, and Ward 8. The drinks can also be used as a mixer with alcoholic spirits, adding a layer of utility to the product.

Image credits:Trevor Griner
Fast Casual, QSR Slideshow