Diners want exciting, healthful offerings. Restaurants without them may be at risk of missing out.
Over the past several years, the plant-based movement has captured the imagination of chefs and diners alike. This excitement picked up momentum as innovative brands began to create plant-based foods that taste so good that they would interest not just the growing population of flexitarians, but any diner that wanted to try something new, exciting, and delicious.
Plant-based proteins are close to achieving ubiquity, and as diners return to restaurants with an interest in eating experiences that they have been missing out on, these items figure to top the list of things they are craving.
“Operators with plant-based options on their menus are going to benefit from an increase in consumer interest,” says Mary McGovern, CEO of New Wave Foods. “This is exciting. It’s news, it’s innovation, and people are going to be coming back to restaurants looking to try plant-based options at their favorite restaurant. If you don’t have plant-based offerings, your competitor will.”
While plant-based burgers have become common, plant-based seafood has been notably missing from the movement. New Wave Foods is a startup company that spent five years developing a plant-based shrimp that tastes just like ocean shrimp, the number one consumed seafood item in the U.S., with over 1.5 billion pounds eaten per year. Made from sustainably sourced seaweed, McGovern says that the allergen-free shrimp is an ingredient replacement for ocean shrimp, and can be used in any recipe served hot. Now, anyone who wants to enjoy a delicious shrimp dish can do so thanks to New Wave Foods.
Even the newest kitchen employees can cook New Wave Shrimp with minimal training—that’s no small victory for an industry dealing with a labor shortage. The shrimp is also versatile, playing well in virtually all traditional shrimp applications, like tacos, fried shrimp, shrimp and grits, or even innovative applications, like on pizza or nachos.
Above all else, the product is truly delicious, says Chef Brad Barnes, director of consulting and industry programs at The Culinary Institute of America. Barnes helped develop the product and says an exhaustive amount of work went into ensuring it perfectly mimicked the taste and texture of ocean shrimp. That hard work has been rewarded with consistent positive feedback from those who try it.
“We’ve served this product to a lot of people across all different types of demographics,” Barnes says. “And what we always hear is, ‘Boy this is really great. This really does taste like shrimp.’ It’s a product that you don’t have to be seeking out plant-based products to love. Everybody loves it.”
Barnes says the product was created with the chef operator in mind, and the company offers training videos, marketing guidance, and expertise showing how it might fit into any operation across segments. McGovern adds that the product will be a gamechanger for those who add it to the menu.
“There is a seismic shift happening in the industry toward plant-based products,” McGovern says. “Rarely do operators have such a unique opportunity to take advantage of a wave of consumer interest. Here’s a product that’s available nationwide that helps drive interest and revenue. It really is an exciting moment.”
For more on adding plant-based shrimp, visit newwavefoodservice.com.