and incorporates ginger into its Miso Sesame Ginger Dressing. Orange juice sales have been going through the roof as consumers seek to boost their immune systems. Orange juice already accounts for 44 percent of the juice category. Following initial pandemic stay-at-home orders in several states, Citrus Industry reports that orange juice sales grew by another 44 percent in the four-week period ending April 11, compared to the prior year. Restaurants can incorporate turmeric and ginger into more food and beverages; the easiest implementation is in beverages and proteins, but ongoing experimentation will yield further innovation. These ingredients will remain popular well beyond the pandemic. Orange juice’s resurgent popularity could be short-lived after 2021; but having orange juice available as a staple beverage this year can definitely reap short term rewards.
Vegan WOW and the vegan bakery As the number of omnivores and flexitarians grow, the value proposition of vegan products has increased. A new trend popping up across menus and restaurants is craveable vegan, according to Kara Nielsen, director of Food & Drink, WGSN. Vegan is permeating menus across categories, popping up on American, Mexican and soul food. According to Packaged Facts’ Vegan, Vegetarian and Flexitarian Consumers report, 17 percent of consumers are eating more plant-based meats than in 2019. When thinking about the possibilities of vegan, one only needs to turn to Vegan MOB, a soulfood operation out of Oakland, Calif. The MOB Combo plate features plant-based brisket, ribs or fried BBQ shrimp. The MOB Gumbo Bread Bowl is prepared with a vegan shrimp and sausage in a rue, with Creole spices, and rice. As with the Kung Pao Cauliflower dish on Truluck’s menu in Chicago and increasingly a vegetarian and vegan option replacing the more traditional chicken version on menus nationwide, Nielsen notes there is much exploration yet to be had in global 28 District Restaurant News
vegan dishes. Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine can yield dishes that are ripe with flavor and unique vegan ingredients. The availability of plant-based meat alternatives expands the range of options. Vegan tacos have been trending lately and some operators are getting on board without embracing meat alternatives. Chaia Tacos, a restaurant chain in Washington, DC, creates hearty vegetarian tacos with a flavorful combination of legumes, vegetables, fungi, root vegetables, and yogurt. A popular example is the Braised Mushroom Tacos, prepared with feta, salsa roja and cilantro. Chaia can easily make many of their other dishes vegan-style as well. With so many plant-based products emulating eggs, cheese and meat, a complete vegan menu can easily be developed in today’s restaurants. The vegan bakery/baked goods category also presents a ripe opportunity. With a few adjustments, restaurants can tap a wide swath of consumers seeking plantbased options. According to Vegan, Vegetarian and Flexitarian Consumers, 28 percent of consumers are eating more protein from plant-based sources in 2020 than in 2019. In addition, 24 percent of consumers say they are eating more plant-based dairy. Nielsen notes a growing opportunity in chickenless egg products and vegan cheese. Chickenless eggs make it possible to prepare all types of baked goods and breakfast sandwiches without using normal eggs. Clara Foods and Just Egg are two mainstream brands that are helping foodservice providers create vegan egg menu items. Dairy-free cheese is getting a boost from oat milk, which on its own is a popular plant-based product. Oat milk can improve the consistency, taste and texture of vegan cheese. Oatzarella is an oat milk-based dairy-free cheese made by Rucksack Foods in Mclean, Va. It has already been a star at food shows, and is said to melt for better utilization in recipes and taste more like cheese. With an increasing improvement in the taste