Western Food Expo

A few weeks ago, industry professionals gathered together in Los Angeles for the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, Healthy Food Expo West, and Coffee Fest. I was lucky enough to attend and see some of the exciting new things at play in the food and beverage industry.

73% of diners agree that Restaurant Technology improves their guest experience. 70% of diners say they are more likely to choose a restaurant that offers healthy menu options. 52% of adults are looking to expand their variety of ethnic cuisine.

Technology was definitely a big theme. When isn’t it? In fact, you might see automated menu ordering at a restaurant near you sooner than you think.

I learned that fat is the new fuel and ginseng is the new energy.

packets of Fat Fuel Matcha Table of ginseng empower cans

Packaging was also a big theme. I noticed a large number of tables selling biodegradable and compostable materials of various shapes and sizes, including k-cups.

I got to sample some local kombucha and fruit juice (the picture says NOT from concentrate). You can judge whether they meet the criteria, but they seem to from my view. There were quite a few products, the juice included, that is cold-pasteurized. Stay tuned for a post on the topic, but in a nutshell, it’s a pasteurization method using pressure instead of heat, which is thought to preserve more of a food’s taste and nutritional content.
blackberry juice from South Bay Naturals

Those were a nice break after the massive buzz I had from all the coffee and tea.
Tasting cups of Ghirardelli Midnite Mocha Bowls of organic teas with a tasting cup Sample plates of various teas and herbs

There was a wide variety of educational sessions on topics like Succeeding with the Modern Workforce, Challenges in Plant-Based Meat & Seafood, and Crafting a Unique Tea Program. There were also cooking demos and a latte art competition.
Education Pit Stop

I tried some cold-pasteurized and lactose-free (but still made from dairy) milk and ice cream. What a mouthful. The ice-cream had no sugar added to it, and instead used the natural sweetness from breaking up lactose into its component sugars.
Machine dispensing cold-pressed lactose free whole milkSample cup of milk with a sample cookie

I attended a session hosted by Sara Brito of Good Food 100 called Sourcing Your Way to Sustainability. She discussed some of the challenges that restaurants face when it comes to sustainable sourcing (there are a lot) and the landscape that restaurants have to work within. The Good Food Media Network is a nonprofit looking to increase transparency in the restaurant industry by measuring the purchasing practices of chefs. Their annual report is free to view, and any restaurant is able to apply for the list.

Plant-based items were a huge hit. No surprise, considering the category has been growing like crazy the past few years.
bag of Longeve plant-based protein crumbles

In case you didn’t know, trade shows like these are vital to the food and beverage industry. It’s a place where different stakeholders can meet each other (think suppliers and distributors), get an idea of where the industry is heading, see the new trends, roll-out new products, and share information that’s important to the industry. Overall it was a great event, and I hope to attend next year!

This post is not sponsored by anyone listed or linked to above. Anything I was given was readily available to all expo attendees. All opinions are my own.

All images by: Yours Truly

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