The event may be over, but many of the products showcased at Plant Based World, held June 7-8 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York, seem poised to make a major impression on shoppers, especially in the meat alternative space.
The product made by Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Before the Butcher is a prime example of this. With its offering already sold alongside animal items in upscale grocer Bristol Farms’ meat sections – rechristened “protein departments” by Before the Butcher founder and president Danny O’Malley – and its four-SKU line of Uncut Burgers, crafted from soy protein to mimic the taste of beef, chicken, turkey and pork breakfast sausage, set to roll out to supermarket fresh meat cases this summer (four more varieties are on the way by the end of the year), the company has already received plenty of buzz, and its burger, sampled at Plant Based World, lived up to the hype: The texture, taste and mouthfeel were all spot on.
Other meat alternatives at the show passed the taste test with flying colors, even some items that weren’t trying to taste like animal proteins.
Among the many delicious options on display were offerings from the Better Meat Co., Abbot’s Butcher, Tofurky’s Plant-Based Pockets, Hodo, Lightlife, Maika Foods, Dr. Praeger’s, Wilfkind, Vegetarian Plus, No Evil and Luhv Food.
This last company, which operates a vegan deli in Philadelphia’s famous Reading Terminal Market, asked those who enjoyed its products to ring a bell set up at its booth, and that bell clanged away periodically throughout the time that the expo floor was open.
In regard to particular ingredients, jackfruit, that insanely versatile produce item that can be made to taste like virtually any meat, was represented with flavorful entries from The Jackfruit Co. and Edward & Sons, while chickpeas were showcased in toothsome items from Luhv (a garbanzo flax chipotle burger), Yves Veggie Cuisine (falafel balls) and European foodservice company Schouten Food (a falafel quinoa patty).
For fans of quinoa, it also showed up in Yves’ Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burgers. Good Catch Foods wowed with its uncannily authentic-tasting fish-free tuna made from legume-based protein, although Vegetarian Plus served up a surprisingly fishy Vegan Tuna Roll and Luhv provided a fine Vegan Tuna Salad.
Besides meat, the other success story at the show was that of sweet treats, of which there were many to choose from, some low in sugar but high in tastiness. Particularly scrumptious items were Brooklyn Granola’s chewy granola balls, Barr Necessities’ Empowered cookies, BeReal cookie dough, Abe’s Vegan Muffins, Roots plant-based ice cream, Simply Protein Crispy Bars and Baked Bars, yogurt alternatives in various fruit flavors sampled separately by Follow Your Heart and Daiya, and gelato and truffles from Chocolith, which makes each with just three ingredients: dates, raw cacao and coconut. Mouthwatering baked goods made with Fora Foods’ FabaButter proved popular, as did the dairy-free spread itself, simply smeared on rounds of bread.
Although the savory snacks on offer were somewhat less impressive – and fewer in number – Simply Protein’s Crunchy Bites, P-Nuff Crunch’s Original flavor variety and PigOut Pigless Bacon Chips made for enjoyable noshes.
In the pasta/rice/other sides category, inviting offerings included butternut squash mac and cheese from Plant Made by Matthew Kenny, Cauliflower Mac and Korean Japchae from Sweet Earth, and items from Macro Vegetarian. Among beverages, Remedy Organics’ veritable rainbow of functional wellness drinks tasted as good as they looked.
Last but certainly not least, although nondairy cheese is often underwhelming in terms of taste and texture, one item at Plant Based World pretty much nailed both: AkoPlanet by AAK, a Swedish-Danish producer of value-added vegetable oils and fats.