Non-Alcoholic Drinks Revolution and Evolution

Last updated on February 18th, 2020

Discover the allure of non-alcoholic zero-proof spirits and how to add to your menu.

The soaring popularity of non-alcoholic drinks continues to revolutionize the brewery world as industry titans, esteemed bars, and well-respected bartenders board the booze-free train. Various formulations of the newcomers include terms such as mocktails, faux spirits, alt-gin, and zero-proof drinks and beverages. Yet while the cocktails might be ‘mock,’ they are bringing in real bucks – and big bucks to boot.

The non-alcoholic (NA) beer industry, in particular, has proliferated with sales expected to surpass $25 billion by 2024, according to research firm Global Market Insights. The year 2019 also witnessed the astronomical rise to success of the first non-alcoholic gin and whisky products from company Ritual Zero Proof. Its six-month startup inventory sold out in a mere six weeks, necessitating a 400% increase in production to meet demand. The company’s success has since garnered the attention of Diaego, the industry giant whose brands include Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Johnnie Walker, and Don Julio. It now has a small ownership stake and major cash investment in the company, enabling Ritual to expand significantly.

Sober Bars

And it’s not just non-alcoholic drinks which are experiencing an upheaval: sober bars, an oxymoron within itself, are popping up nationwide, along with the newly-coined term “sober curious population.” This refers to the growing population who are decreasing or altogether ceasing their alcohol intake and questioning everything about their relationship with alcohol and the societal pressures that have always caused them to consume alcohol.
The bottom line? If you own a bar, or if your restaurant or catering service provides alcohol, your business can no longer afford not to sell mock drinks and zero-proof beverages.

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How Your Foodservice Can Tap into the Energy Drink Market

Last updated on February 17th, 2020

Get into the energy drinks market with ideas and info about this lucrative space .

If you operate a foodservice, and especially if you work in the beverage industry, you probably have already donned your chefs’ hats and are brainstorming ways to add energy drinks to your beverage menus. Of course, you could simply sell some of the leading energy drink brands, but that would be dabbling in an already saturated playing field with little or no room for growth. On the other hand, if you learn all there is to know about energy drinks, including their pros and cons, you could create your own signature varieties, stand out from the competitive pack, and give both your customers and your restaurant business an energy-bursting boost.

Energy Drink Market Quick Facts

So what do we know about the energy drinks market? Here are some quick facts:

  • Great news for energy drinks! For the period 2019-2024, the global market is forecast to grow with a CAGR of 7.1% (and this despite increasing regulatory and health challenges)
  • Energy drinks are typically non-alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine, sugar, taurine, B vitamins, glucuronolactone, herbal extracts (i.e. ginseng, guarana), and amino acids. Marketed as fatigue-fighters and refreshers that improve physical and mental performance, they are available as drinks, shots, and mixers
  • One of the fastest growing segments in the beverage sphere, energy drinks are outselling soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, bottled water, and ready-to-drink tea/coffee
  • Leading the industry are company giants Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar
  • The major consumers of energy drinks are millennials (aged 18-35)
  • The booming sales figures are attributed to: increasing consumer focus on fitness and health; demand for quick, easily available sources of energy that accommodate increasingly busy lifestyles; aggressive marketing campaigns (including sports team and celebrity endorsements); positive effects reported by consumers of increased alertness, better performance, elevated mood, and enhanced memory

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How to Add Healthy Apricots to Foodservice Menus

Last updated on February 16th, 2020

Enjoy apricot cooking and baking tips, apricot recipes, apricot history, and more.

Whether you eat them raw, dried, or canned, there are countless ways to enjoy the healthy, tasty apricot. In fact, apricots are used to prepare a wide array of savory side dishes, sauces, oils, jams, and desserts. If you are a gourmet chef, professional baker, or own a restaurant or catering service, this blog will give you the 411 on cooking and baking with apricots. In addition, as we shine a sweet spotlight on this tart fruit, you will enjoy a myriad of new recipes to add to your menu while your customers enjoy being pampered by your new delightful apricot offerings.

Apricot Basics

Scientifically known as Prunus armeniaca, the apricot fruit has a thin, fuzzy, yellow or orange exterior with a tangy flesh and inedible pit inside. Less juicy – and hence less messy – than their peach, plum, and nectarine counterparts, they are perfect as a healthy snack and can be easily added to numerous recipes. Apricot oil can also be extracted from its kernel (seed) and like the fruit itself, it is packed with healthy benefits.

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Unique Fall and Winter Vegetables to Add to Your Restaurant’s Menu

Last updated on January 30th, 2020

Add these unique and largely unfamiliar fall and winter vegetables to your menu

With the fall vegetable season still in full bloom and the winter vegetable season looming, now is the perfect time for your restaurant, catering service, or other eatery to cash in on the plethora of delicious, nutritious vegetables currently available. To help your menu really stand out from the crowd, we have created a list of some the most unique fall and winter vegetables on the market, guaranteed to tweak your customers’ culinary curiosity, please their palates, and keep them coming back for more.

The selections – including shiso, fennel bulbs, crosnes, fiddleheads, celeriac, and many more – are some the most unusual, head-turning vegetables you have ever heard of. Add these veggies to your restaurant’s menu, combine them with some savvy business-boosting marketing techniques (think Pinterest and Instagram…), and what you have is a recipe for winter recipe success.

And that’s not all. If your chefs feel like they have exhausted their repertoire of recipe ideas for dishes made from run-of-the-mill potatoes, onions, squash, and other staples, it’s time to step out of the culinary box and sink your teeth into the likes of blue potatoes, tree onions, Hakerei turnips, delicata squash, Chinese water spinach, Chinese artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, dragon carrots, black radishes, white asparagus – and the list goes on.

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Trash Fish Dining on the Rise as Chefs Embrace Sustainable Seafood

Last updated on January 27th, 2020

Learn why chefs are adding delicious, sustainable seafood, known as trash fish, to their menus.

If you work in foodservice, you are more than likely know that ‘trash fish’ and ‘sustainable seafood’ are the talk of the town in the food industry. They are also the most prolific catchphrases among fish providers, ecologists, and oceanographers these days. But do you really know what the phrases mean and what relevance they have to you and your customers?

For many, the answers to these questions still lie at the bottom of the sea Moreover, what is being labeled as trash fish (aka ‘garbage fish’ and ‘rough fish’) is probably NOT what you think it is! In fact, the term is a misnomer. So, let’s take a dive into the waters to separate the facts from the fiction and to get schooled on the latest buzz in the ‘biz.

Bycatch in the Seafood Industry

Did you know that over half of all U.S. seafood consumption comes from only three fish types – tuna, salmon, and shrimp – which are imported from outside of the United States and which are highly overfished? At the same time, hundreds of sustainable fish species swimming off local U.S. shores are being discarded by fishermen as part of their ‘bycatch’ – another trending term in the industry today. Bycatch refers to fish that are perfectly edible but that are being discarded as seafood caught ‘by mistake’ while fishermen target more in-demand varieties.

How Local Fish Are Becoming High-End Restaurant Dishes

In response, seafood providers and foodservice professionals have begun to collaborate by taking less-known, locally caught fish and turning them into high-end gourmet dishes. Leading these efforts is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – a global nonprofit organization established to protect wild seafood, to educate the public about the value of different fish, and to end the trajectory of labeling entire schools of fish undesirable.

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Guide to Demerara and Brown Sugar Varieties

Last updated on January 27th, 2020

Discover why you should be adding demerara and other brown sugars to recipes.

If you work in the bakery business or run a coffee shop, there is a good chance that one of your star ingredients is demerara sugar. Not only is its distinctive toffee-caramel flavor ideal for baking cakes and pastries but it has become a favorite among coffee and tea lovers who prefer its taste over other hot beverage sweeteners. The larger and grainier texture of demerara sugar crystals have also made it a popular pick among bartenders who use it to adorn the rims of cocktail glasses and as an accompaniment to brown liquors such as dark rum, bourbon, and whiskey.

We discussed maple syrup, and birch and walnut syrups as natural sweeteners in previous blogs, also rising in the popularity charts are natural brown sugar varieties such as molasses, muscovado, and evaporated sugar cane. With white processed sugars continuing to fall out of favor with consumers, now is a great time to get the full scoop on demerara sugar and its counterparts and learn how you can add them to your foodservice menus.

What Is Demerara Sugar?

Demerara sugar is made by pressing sugar cane to extract sugarcane juice. The juice is then boiled until the water has evaporated, thickening first into a syrup and then cooling and hardening. Retaining about 1%-2% of the natural cane molasses, the sugar is light brown in color and boasts a uniquely large and crunchy crystal which lends itself well for many dessert recipes and toppings.

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How to Cater to Your (Sugar-Reducing) Baby Boomer Customers

Restaurants cater to Baby Boomers interested in lowering their sugar intake.

Attention all foodservice providers: Did you know that over 53% of baby boomers plan to significantly reduce their sugar intake this year and are committed to selecting products and menu items with no sugar added? Moreover, did you know that baby boomers have more purchasing power than any other age group in the U.S.? The demographic (aka “the 50-plus crowd”, born 1946-1964) also eats out more and travels more than any other generation.

This may surprise you, given that the millennial population has captured much of the limelight in recent food industry news. However, while the latter are considered the industry’s future big spenders, it is baby boomers who still constitute the largest group of buyers – and when it comes to food choices, health concerns are a major factor in their decisions. Specifically, according to C+R Research and nationwide surveys, baby boomers are most likely to “respond positively to health related products” and especially prefer foods that are free from sugar, fat, and sodium.

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Beyond Maple Syrup: Discover Birch and Walnut

Discover the latest in syrups: birch and walnut, and how to add your menu.

Did you know that there are multiple varieties of syrup beyond maple that you can offer your customers the next time they order pancakes, waffles, or French toast? Although sales of maple syrup are booming, also rising to the top of the popularity charts are a diverse menu of alternatives. Birch syrup and walnut syrup, for example, are made from sap tapped directly from the tree (just like maple), while other trees that can be tapped are elder, box elder, hickory, basswood, sycamore, beechnut, butternut, and more. Thanks to technological advancements, there are also syrup hybrids such as earthy tasting maple-walnut and nutty flavored maple-birch.

To treat your customers to an expanding menu of syrups teeming with taste and nutrients, enjoy the following guide to the birch and walnut types. As you will discover, although they are made using the same tools for tapping as sugar maples, each variety boasts many unique characteristics and can be used in cooking and baking to create novel dishes and add a savory twist to your customers’ favorite recipes.

Tapping the Value of Walnut and Birch Trees

For the past decade, teams of organic tree sap specialists (such as those at the Cornell Maple Program), alongside food technologists and manufacturers, have been researching the commercial potential of tapping walnut and birch for syrup. Among their key objectives has been determining the best tapping methods (i.e. the old-school bucket-hung-on-a-tree method where gravity pulls the sap from the tree vs. the more modern vacuum tube method where tubes are hooked up to the trees with a pump); the best times of year and climate conditions; the expected sap flow and yield; the comparative sugar levels; and the value of blending sap varieties. Last on the list: Taste tests to determine the potential of the new food products. In the words of Michael Farrell, co-founder of New Leaf Tree Syrups: “Part of the fun is seeing how people like it. Everybody loves maple, and we’ll have to see how they like these.”

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How To Incorporate Figs in Your Restaurant Menu

Discover how you can add healthy figs to your restaurant menus.

Sweet and Healthy Figs Play a New Role on Restaurant Menus

Fig season is here and will continue through mid-November. If you work in foodservice and have not yet discovered the amazing flavors, textures, and array of colorful figs, it’s time to clear your plates and make room for a large serving of all thing’s fig-tastic. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the history of figs, fig fun facts, fig nutrients, fig varieties, how to cook and bake with figs and dried figs and enjoy some recommended recipes.

Figs in the Food Industry

Did you know that the edible fig is thought to be the first plant ever cultivated by humans? Eaten fresh, dried, cooked, or added to baking recipes, figs are naturally sweet, a rich source of fiber, and contain trace amounts of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Dried figs are especially packed with dietary fiber and provide 26% of the recommended daily value of manganese.

While previously the fruit has been overlooked by chefs, fig flavors and dishes are growing in popularity and are increasingly appearing on restaurant menus. Recently, they made headline news when the Swiss company Firmenich named fig the 2018 “Flavor of the Year,” while Internet searches for fig wedding cakes have seen a 500% increase in recent seasons.

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The Wonderful World of Ginger

Feature sensational ginger in your recipes and discover how to incorporate it in your recipes.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Ginger! In both its raw and powdered forms, ginger has been named a ‘superfood,’ and for good reason. Well-known for its usage as a savory spice and as a medicinal plant, ginger is not only one of today’s top herbs for cooking and baking, it has also played a prominent role in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda nutrition for over 3,000 years where it hailed as both a potent anti-inflammatory and flavor enhancer.

From its origins as one the first spices exported to Europe from the Orient during the spice trade, and up until today, where ginger’s sharp, pungent taste and aroma is a star ingredient in many main course and dessert recipes – there are countless reasons why ginger should be at your chefs’ fingertips and why ginger recipes should feature prominently on your restaurant menu.

Ginger Quick Facts

Although the ginger plant has been around for millennium, its plethora of benefits continue to astound, so let’s indulge our taste buds with some juicy ginger facts.

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