Many operators are hitting the reset button as they open back up for business in the midst of a pandemic, hopeful that the post-COVID-19 world is fast approaching. With all of the volatility across the industry, finding the right food products to move forward with will be tantamount to a healthy, balanced restaurant business.
Here’s a slide-by-slide overview illustrating how soy products can ease the transition into the new normal, from the first time the deep fryer is fired up, on down to the ingredients that you’ll menu long into the future.
Rebooting a fryer after an extended shut down is like restarting a car that has been idle for several months. That’s why it’s important to do a deep clean of the unit and start it back up with a quality oil known for its stability and longevity.
“Utilizing a high oleic soybean oil is a long-term investment that will ultimately keep maintenance costs down,” says Frank Flider, edible oils consultant for U.S. Soy. “The high oleic soybean oil provides improved resistance to oxidation and that means it will reduce the build-up of polymers on foodservice equipment in high-heat applications, leading to less equipment maintenance, and ultimately, lower operating costs.”
High oleic soybean oil also lasts longer in the fryer than conventional oils. A hidden benefit to an oil that reduces maintenance and offers extended fry life is that it will allow companies to concentrate on the social distancing that will be important moving forward—the easier cleaning processes are for restaurant staff, the better.
As restaurants are faced with social distancing rules and new and untrained staff, U.S. Soy and Ventura Foods are providing digital training resources to help restaurant staff quickly and simply learn the basics of running their fryer and maintaining the oil quality.
Based on a sensory evaluation comparing French fries prepared in high-stability oils, high oleic soybean oil was a top performer on overall likeability. Whether they know it or not, most consumers prefer fried foods that have been cooked in a neutrally flavored oil. The neutral flavor profile means the actual taste of the food at the center of the meal will shine through.
“High oleic soybean oil is so incredibly neutral that the average diner doesn’t realize what they’ve been missing until they try food fried in it,” Flider says. “A neutral oil helps showcase the actual flavor of the food, as it is meant to.”
Bakers have gravitated toward high oleic soybean oil-based shortenings, too, where it similarly stays out of the way of the ingredients doing the heavy lifting toward an indulgent flavor profile.
“One of the biggest problems with getting rid of partially hydrogenated oils is that it was hard to get an oil product someone would actually like to eat,” Flider says. “Being able to develop drop-in solutions like shortenings made with soybean oil is helping bakers develop delicious recipes with no trans-fat, and without needing to reformulate.”
Prior to the pandemic, there were no buzzwords in the industry quite like “plant-based protein.” The number of headlines may have eased due to the intense focus on COVID-19, but plant-based protein consumption has actually risen in 2020.
High-quality soy protein is one of the only complete plant-based proteins that provides all nine essential amino acids. It’s a highly functional protein that’s found in traditional foods like tofu, soy milk and edamame and in new items like soy-based burgers that mimic ground beef. Soy foods can be used across a menu to boost nutrition and protein content and enhance texture and taste.
A recent USB survey found that over two-thirds of respondents (67%) say that eating a complete plant-based protein is important to them, so as operators return to restaurants, winning back consumers with popular menu items like soy-based burgers may help boost sales.
During these uncertain times, the United Soybean Board aims to be one of the organizations that helps bring restaurants all the way back.
“U.S. soybean farmers appreciate the creativity and perseverance of restaurants feeding the country during this trying time, and they are committed to continuing to provide a secure food supply. Agriculture has been tested time and time again with droughts, floods and other challenges, and this is yet another test that soy farmers are confident the food industry will overcome,” said John Jansen, vice president of oil strategy at the United Soybean Board. “By buying U.S. grown ingredients, you are helping to lower the carbon footprint associated with food production while supporting U.S. farms.”
Jansen continued, noting that “With 73 percent of consumers finding it important to support domestic agriculture by purchasing food products made by American and local brands, menuing U.S. grown soy oil and protein can help attract those diners into your restaurant. Menu callouts or information on the walls of your eating establishment can help tell the story of the American farmer that they are supporting with their dollars.”
To learn more about how U.S. soy farmers and Ventura Foods are supporting restaurants, visit QUALISOY.com/restart.