Expo East Episode 1: Plant-Based Meat
At GFI, we’re laser-focused on everything that goes into making great plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products (think funding, research, marketing, entrepreneur support). So when we get a chance to taste the results, we really enjoy it! At this year’s Expo East, where plant-based producers meet for the nation’s biggest natural products show, we saw many old friends, were blown away by the innovation, and yes, we tried some uber-delicious foods. Here are five of our favorite plant-based meat finds:

Good Catch Reels in the Win

The team at Good Catch hooked one of the biggest accolades of the show: the Nexty Editor’s Choice award for Best New Food (and before even hitting store shelves!). This product perfects both taste and texture. Two flavors of the chunk albacore flavor tuna will arrive next year, naked in water and an olive oil herb marinade. As the first product in the marketplace to truly excel at creating seafood without the use of fish, this is a total game changer.

So what’s the secret? Focused on amazing taste and chef-driven by brothers Chad and Derek Sarno (both GFI advisors, not that we're bragging), they spent more than a year in the kitchen developing a six-bean plant protein recipe. Along with the shelf-stable tuna, the team also sampled their New England style crab cakes. Don't even get me started! We can’t wait for Good Catch to hit major retailers in 2018. 

From Top Dog to Alpha Burritos

Alpha Foods co-founders Loren Wallis and Cole Orobetz perfectly exemplify a market shift we love: mainly, that plant-based food has truly become appealing to vegans and meat-eaters alike. Loren, a 36-year vegan, had been toiling away trying to create the ultimate plant-based hotdog when he met Cole, a self-identified “meat reducer.” Loren gave Cole a couple of his “beta” bagel dogs, and Cole put them… (wait for it)... directly into his freezer. When Cole’s hometown of Calgary got hit with a major blizzard, he knew it was go hungry, or finally give Loren’s hot dogs a try. They were so good that within a week, Cole had flown to California to meet Loren. 

Within three months, Alpha was born. 

Alpha’s commitment to addressing the convenience food trend has taken the team beyond hot dogs. Shown below in fresh-from-the-oven technicolor are the Philly Sandwich and the Chick’n Fajita. The Mexicali and the Pizza are equally awesome. Look for all four SKUs on the West coast starting in October and nationwide next year. Staying true to their roots, I hear there’s also a jalapeno cheddar hot dog in the works.

Tofurky Makes the Holidays Brighter

Tofurky may be OG, but they’re also cutting edge. We love innovation from veterans in the space. Responding to consumer demand, Tofurky has launched an entirely reformulated “DIY” line of grounds that are gluten-free. The four varieties include breakfast sausage, Italian style sausage, Chorizo style sausage and burger. All are made with pasture-raised plants (awesome marketing play Tofurky!) and allow consumers and chefs to cook with them how they wish.

Secondly, Tofurky is going to light up the lives of many plant-based eaters (and surprise more than a few family and friends) this holiday season with their new Vegetarian Ham Style Roast with Extra Special Beer Glaze. There’s not much more to say here other than it’s absolutely delicious. They were serving it just like I would at home during the holidays, with some fresh pineapple. 

Loma Linda Goes Shelf Stable

The folks at Atlantic Natural have been busy behind the scenes reformulating their Loma Linda line. They’ve also achieved a first in the space—a shelf-stable, microwavable, meat replacement that is a complete meal solution. [Insert record scratching sound here.]

That’s right, they’re moving plant-based meat to the center of the store. Those who read labels closely will also be thrilled to see the new formulation sets high standards around ingredients. 

The Devil Made Me Do It - Eat a Glazed Donut with No Evil Sausage, that is!

If you’ve ever been to a food show of this magnitude, you know that doubling-back to a booth you’ve already visited is rare. There’s just too much good stuff to see and check out! But when Mike Woliansky and Sadrah Schadel, co-founders of No Evil Foods, told us they would be serving donuts (animal product-free, of course) with their fantastic plant-based meats on Saturday, we made time. 

This duo has created a brand that really reflects their DIY/punk rock aesthetic (their words!); the best part is that it tastes every bit as good as the packaging looks. Did I mention they won a Nexty for Best New Packaging Innovation for their Comrade Cluck No Chicken plant meat? They also have Pit Boss Pulled “Pork” BBQ, El Zapatista Chorizo, and The Stallion Italian sausage. 

Tune in next week, when we'll be sharing our plant-based dairy finds! 

To learn more about The Good Food Institute's work supporting the plant-based foods industry, check out what we do

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