This is an exciting time for food service. The field is full of companies offering astounding levels of food innovation, with healthier products, more sustainable practices and better options for consumers. If you’re looking to innovate, take a look at what is going on at a few of the companies that most experts agree are leading the pack:
1. French Grocery Chain Intermarché
Food waste is a massive problem worldwide.
In the European Union alone, 300 million tons of food is discarded each year, much of it for purely cosmetic reasons. French grocery purveyor Intermarché decided to combat this trend by making ugly fruits downright chic.
The grocery store created the "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables" campaign showcasing these products. They created posters featuring gorgeous photographs of less than perfect produce. The produce was sold alongside conventional fruits and vegetables at a 30% discount. The project was so successful that, not only did they get people to warm up to the ugly fruit, they managed to sell out in every store.
2. Beyond Meat
It seems like everyone is little less carnivorous these days. From Meatless Mondays to Vegan diets, American consumers are consciously cutting back on meat. But, many people enjoy the taste and texture of meat and are unwilling to give up their favorites. Until now, there was no veggie substitute that was able to capture the texture of meat. Beyond Meat has changed that.
They've created a technology that will produce faux meats that have the texture of animal products, but without the hormones, antibiotics and other elements that encourage some consumers to go vegetarian. Their faux chicken strips and taco crumbles hit stores last year. Investors that include the Humane Society, Bill Gates and Kleiner Perkins have signed on to help the company succeed.
3. L.A. Kitchen
In this pilot program, some of tomorrow's hottest chefs are honing their skills on produce that would otherwise be discarded. The program takes on the problems of unemployment, nutrition and food waste by providing job training in food preparation and nutrition advocacy. All foods used in the program are donated by wholesalers who would otherwise have to discard this excess. Guest chefs contribute their expertise, creating an intensive culinary curriculum that emphasizes local produce, nutrition and sustainability.
The health-oriented burrito franchise has made a name for itself by serving “food with integrity.” The chain has even started a conversation about sustainability and food sourcing with its branded comedy show Farmed and Dangerous.
Now, after a year of testing, the brand is adding the first new food innovation to its menu in the chain's 20 year history. In order to offer healthier and more sustainable options to customers, they will now offer Sofritas, a zesty organic tofu-based dish.
5. Kind Healthy Snacks
With Americans' increasingly busy lifestyles, grab and go snacks are a must. Unfortunately, many of the foods in this category are high in salt, fat and simple carbohydrates. Kind is working to change that by offering healthy and delicious options such as high-protein nut clusters and granola bars flavored with sea salt and heart-healthy dark chocolate. The tactic is working in their favor: they currently make five of the top 19 products in the nutrition bar snack category. And, they have increased their sales 800% in the past six years. The company continues offering healthy and easy food with a new line of cereals and an expanded offering of granola bars.
Better, Sustainable Food is the Future.
As more companies work to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, health and consumer choice, more innovative products emerge. What are your favorite companies who are leading in food innovation?