According to Datassential, plant-based cheese has grown on menus by 110 percent over the past four years. And yet, the majority of those who have tried the plant-based cheese options currently on the market (56 percent) do not enjoy them.
So while there seems to be demand for plant-based cheese, chefs appear to be having trouble finding the right product to meet that demand. So what’s the hang up? The same Datassential report found that it comes down to texture, with 53 percent of consumers saying it’s the main factor that can make or break a plant-based product.
It’s why the AFP Innovation Team has released two different flavors of the plant-based cheese sauce: Muy Fresco® Plant-Based Cheese Sauce, in both nacho and cheddar flavors. The products carefully mimic the taste profile and texture of dairy-based cheese sauce, and deliver the same versatility as its dairy-based counterpart.
“Plant-based slices and shreds have been owning the menu space when it comes to plant-based cheese,” says the AFP Innovation Team. “Menu penetration is up 22 percent year-over-year, according to Datassential. While plant-based cheese is more prevalent in the retail space, the AFP team saw an opportunity to create a phenomenal tasting plant-based cheese sauce for the foodservice world.”
The team strongly believes that plant-based cheese sauce will tackle two challenges at once: it will both taste delicious and also be more versatile than plant-based cheese slices and shreds currently available within the foodservice space. In other words, they are the products chefs have been searching for in order to meet the growing demand for plant-based cheese.
“Plant-based cheese slices and shreds can introduce operational challenges, like trying to melt the shreds or limit its operational value with one-use applications—for example, on a sandwich,” says the AFP Innovation Team. “In the current foodservice environment, it’s critical for restaurants to balance streamlined operations and fun, exciting menu items for their patrons. Plant-based cheese sauce is the perfect partner to enhance any core menu item. Whether you dip, dunk, drizzle, or use it as an ingredient. Plant-based cheese sauce can amp up the craveability of any menu item, from breakfast, to appetizers, to a main entrée.”
The AFP Innovation Team sees a world of creativity opened up by Muy Fresco® Plant-Based Cheese Sauce. It recommends the nacho-flavored cheese sauce in menu items like loaded fries or nachos, where the cheddar-flavored product can be used for a dipping sauce perfect for tempura-fried veggies.
“The ability to be used across dayparts is a huge benefit to Muy Fresco® Plant-Based Cheese Sauce,” the AFP Innovation Team says. “From loaded breakfast hash browns, to a smothered cheesy veggie burger, to veggie mac and cheese cups. There really is no limit to how the back-of-house wants to incorporate the product to spice up a core menu item. Plus, the added benefit of being shelf stable and its longer shelf life really provides flexibility for operations inventory management.”
The AFP Innovation Team says this is the next logical step in the evolution of plant-based foods. With diners being more health conscious—yet still demanding that healthier foods taste great and are adventurous enough—Muy Fresco® Plant-Based Cheese Sauce offers a great solution.
“The consumer is challenging the plant-based industry to produce better-tasting, cleaner label products across all categories,” the AFP Innovation Team says. “Our goal is to have a plant-based version of our core cheese sauce flavors—so look out for new flavors on the horizon.”
For more on Muy Fresco® Plant-Based Cheese Sauce, visit the AFP website.