(5434)#foodrecipes | Leftovers: My/Mo Mochi adds single-serve packaging; Upton’s Naturals launches meat substitute to go bananas for

Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can't write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.

Mochi for one

If you’re afraid to eat mochi now because you don't know who touched it first, there’s a solution. 

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream announced it is launching single-serve My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream balls packaged individually for convenience, freshness and food safety. The pack will be available in the self-serve My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream Bar at retailers across the country.

In many grocery stores, there are loose, unpackaged mochi in self-serve stations with their signature portable ice cream bites held in small balls of Japanese rice dough. The company said that these new individual packs can make consumers more comfortable with the grab-and-go aspect of the 100-calorie ice cream balls. 

Russell Barnett, CMO of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, said in a release today's consumers are hyper aware of the issues surrounding food safety and food waste during the outbreak. With the coronavirus outbreak, a single-serve packaged pack could be something consumers are more interested in. 

"Not only will the new individual packs give My/Mo a longer shelf life and reduce waste, but it will improve hygienic standards by eliminating the open exposure of the mochi to consumers,” he said. “This is an important consideration during a time when food safety is top of mind for many Americans."

Mochi is a Japanese rice dough dessert that has existed for centuries, but in recent years, it's become one of the top-selling frozen treats in U.S. grocery stores. It's getting to be a crowded space with brands like Bubbies, Maeda-En and Mr. Mochi, but My/Mo has almost 90% of the market share, according to data from Nielsen cited by CNN.

This isn’t the first innovation out of My/Mo in recent years. The company has launched three new types of mochi ice cream, including non-dairy, vegan and ice cream pints with mochi bits. The brand is available in more than 20,000 retailers throughout the U.S.

In January, Lakeview Capital acquired The Mochi Ice Cream Co., makers of My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, from Century Park Capital Partners. The company’s new owners may be looking to continue innovations like this latest one, especially as it faces new challenges with an ongoing pandemic.  

—​ Lillianna Byington

 

Optional Caption

Permission granted by Upton's Naturals

 

A meat substitute with a-peel

In the world of meat alternatives, there are complicated ones like plant-based burgers with long ingredient lists and high-tech processing needed to make them look and taste like real meat. But there are also simple ones, like shredded unripe jackfruit.

Upton’s Naturals, the first company to bring a lineup of jackfruit meat substitutes to U.S. consumers, has done it again with a new — and extremely simple — meat substitute: Upton’s Naturals Banana Blossoms. This is exactly what it sounds like: the tear-shaped flower at the end of a banana cluster. Upton’s Naturals says the blossom, which is lightly brined to prevent oxidation, is ready to heat and serve and can easily mimic the taste and texture of fried fish. 

“While banana blossoms are a popular, culinary tradition in Southeast Asia, U.S. cooks have just scratched the surface of working with this unique and versatile ingredient,” Upton’s Naturals founder Dan Staackmann said in a written statement. “We’re on a mission to change that by making this excellent meat alternative more accessible to mainstream consumers and easier to prepare.”

Banana blossoms, much like jackfruit before them, are widely enjoyed by Asians and relatively unknown to Americans. They had only been available in the U.S. in canned, brined varieties in some Asian grocery stores. According to Upton’s Naturals, they have a texture and taste similar to artichoke hearts and are a good source of potassium, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.

Upton’s Naturals Banana Blossoms are in retort packs and not brined like their Asian counterparts, so no draining is required and the taste is more neutral, the company says.

But the big question: Can this obscure plant-based ingredient really mimic meat? A popular vegan fish and chips shop in London features the signature dish made from banana blossoms and British grocer Sainsbury’s includes it as a centerpiece of some of its plant-based meals.

The other big meat substitute Upton’s Naturals introduced to the United States, jackfruit, may offer some clues to how banana blossoms will be received by consumers. Meat substitutes made from the gargantuan tree fruit can easily be found in many U.S. retailers today. As Americans are looking for the next great meat substitute, preferably with a clean label, many consumers could go bananas for Upton’s Naturals’ new product.

— Megan Poinski

Optional Caption

Permission granted by BE Protein Smoothies

 

From nuggets to wraps, chicken’s next incarnation could be in a bottle

For years, consumers have munched on nuggets, wraps or sandwiches to get their chicken fix. But with shoppers increasingly more on the go, is the next solution drinking the popular poultry product from a bottle?

BE Protein Smoothies introduced a drink that combines lean chicken breast meat, antioxidants and vitamins from fresh fruits and live cultures from yogurt, naturally sweetened with honey. The company touts the smoothie as the “ideal carb-to-protein ratio that kickstarts muscle recovery and weight control.”

“[The smoothies] offer convenience to busy consumers that don't have time to meal prep, but want their daily intake of macronutrients,” owner Brian Chia told Meat + Poultry.

The product offerings, which come in flavors such as Yuzu Banana Chicken Protein Blend and Mango Coconut Chicken Protein Blend, hit on several trends important to consumers today, with 100% real ingredients and no preservatives or additives. Currently sold only in Singapore, BE Protein Smoothies is hoping to eventually sell the product in the U.S. and other countries, Chia said. 

Initially, the lack of preservatives and additives gave the smoothie a shelf life of about a week. BE Protein Smoothies now uses high-pressure processing to inactivate microorganisms and increase the shelf life to more than 30 days.

As consumers turn to snacking and eating on the go, the idea of putting meat in a portable form is nothing new.  

Countless jerkies are on the market, but big CPG companies like Conagra Foods and Kellogg have been bulking up their presence in the space. Conagra, which already owned Slim Jim, acquired Thanasi Food, the manufacturer behind the Duke’s meat snacks brand in 2017. Kellogg bought EPIC provisions, a fast-growing premium meat snacks company, in 2016.

But while these products have much longer shelf lives, BE Protein Smoothies could be attractive to fitness-focused consumers looking for a product with a halo that is healthier and fresher. The challenge for many, of course, will be getting used to the fact that they're drinking their chicken, rather than eating it.

— Christopher Doering

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