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Say Yes! to Plant-Based Protein Carbs

When it comes to Millennial and Gen Z protein consumption, the traditional staples of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood have met their match with tofu, edamame, chickpeas, and almonds. These lifestyle trends are more than just a fad – consumers site Health, Taste and Shelf Life as primary reasons for a dietary reduction in meat.  1But the wellness train doesn’t end there. The modern buyer is reaching for plant-based protein carbs as well: Brown Rice, Ancient Grains, Baked Goods … even Asian Noodles and Pasta are getting a health-halo makeover in grocery store aisles and restaurants alike.

 

As 54% of consumers agree that restaurants should offer more plant-based protein options, fast casual menus have reacted in several ways. Grain bowls, lined with brown rice, quinoa, farro, and sorghum are packed with any combination of nuts, beans, and meat analogs. With an +87% growth rate over the last 4 years, restaurants continue to invest in pre-portioned grain blends to satisfy consumer demand.  2A plethora of “Design Your Own Bowl” concepts aim to serve up nutrition and customization.

 

Noodles infused with faba bean or pea protein (the same protein base used for Beyond Meat) are growing in popularity too – adding up to 20-30g of protein per serving, while reducing carb count. Although these options are heavily shopped by the Millennial and Gen Z demographic, 50% of all consumers say that they are eating more plant-based fare than they were 1 year ago.  3As the American palate and wallet migrates toward health-conscious, natural ingredients – there is no better time to explore the latest in delicious plant-based protein carbs.

1 Dataessential Keynote Report: Plant-Based Eating 2018
2 Dataessential Keynote Report: Plant-Based Eating 2018
3 Technomic, 5 Consumer Trends for 2018

Investing in the New Normal

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into the summer months, many restaurant operators ponder whether the stringent measures they took in Q1 will in part, become their new normal. In these uncertain times, 42% of diners demand improved food safety measures from restaurants1  and 88% are exclusively taking their meals to go2 . Although chains have already consolidated their menus to allow for greater efficiency in supporting contactless delivery, the question remains: How can operators optimize BOH convenience to thrive in a long-term To Go environment?

 

It turns out, pre-portioned products can be a strong solution for quicker, safer service. The expediency of custom batch sizing for pre-cooked noodles or grains, as an example, may reduce kitchen prep time by up to 10 minutes per order. For an added benefit – frozen, quick frozen, and RTE offerings aim to increase shelf life, and can introduce greater flexibility to the purchasing schedule. With many consumers still working from home, individual portioning supports extended or irregular lunch and dinner hours.

 

In response to the ongoing delivery trend, food manufacturers are also reacting to the new restaurant normal. Some have begun developing pre-portioned noodle and grain items – now blended with custom sauces, and even IQF vegetables. These meal solutions, while largely superfluous for traditional dine-in establishments, may demand more serious consideration in today’s BOH operation. While consumers are excited to be reunited with their favorite restaurants, 59% anticipate a slow return after shelter-in-place restrictions have been lifted. 3 The new normal seems to require creative thought, investment, and attention from restaurant operators – only time will tell.

1 Mintel, April 2020
2 Dataessential, June 2020
3 Dataessential, May 2020

Testimonials – Ancient Grains Have Modern Appeal

Ancient grains — including amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, spelt and quinoa — have exploded in popularity over the last 5 years thanks to their impressive combination of flavor, nutrition and versatility. Quinoa, for example, is gluten free, high in protein, contains all nine essential amino acids and can be used in a wide range of meals as a substitute or a showcase ingredient.

Ancient grains are on everyone’s radar:

Be sure to look for these healthy options in your next meal or recipe!

Testimonials – Noodles are Key

Here at JSL, we are all about the Noodle! Here are a few more testimonials surrounding the versatility and popularity of our favorite Asian meal staple:

So, go grab a bowl of your favorite noodles today!

Love of Ramen is Rising Fast

Ramen noodles have been on the rise for the last few years. Now, they’re absolutely skyrocketing.

Declared as one of the top 11 trends at the 2016 NRA Show, ramen is sparking excitement with its seemingly limitless range of possibilities. Because ramen provides an incredibly customizable noodle-in-broth base, chefs from coast to coast are using it to craft adventurous, comforting, creative and healthful dishes.

Tex-Mex ramen, lobster ramen, breakfast ramen, vegetarian ramen, beer bacon ramen — look at nearly any locale and you’ll find new and unique uses of the Japanese noodle.  Some restaurants have even used it on top of burgers or as a side with salmon.

And with the rise of more unexpected uses of ramen, consumers are more open to the traditional forms too, such as tonkotsu, miso, and shio. So, whether you’re looking to go classic or creative, ramen is the hottest noodle right now.

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