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Best in Show: Product Picks From the Plant Based World Expo

Browse some herbivore-approved highlights from the latest Plant Based World Expo North America in New York City.

Posted on February 5, 2022

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After a pandemic hiatus, the Plant Based World Expo—the only 100% plant-based B2B conference for the food and retail industry, produced by JD Events—returned to New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Center on December 9 to 10, 2021. And attendees were hungrier than ever for its unique array of plant-based products and education.

If you need more proof that plant-based is the future, note that more than 3,100 show-goers perused the aisles of 200-plus exhibitors—reflecting more than 65% growth in exhibit space and more than double the audience over a pre-pandemic 2019. Trends on display included female-owned businesses, plant-based cultured butters, global cuisine, and more plant-based chicken than you could shake a beak at—from the usual nuggets and patties to shreds, chunks, strips and more.

Plant Based World Expo 2022 has been scheduled for September 8 to 9 at the Javits Center, and it’s already expected to double in size again. Find more info at plantbasedworldexpo.com, and to keep up with the plant-based pizza scene, visit PMQ’s sister site, PizzaVegan.com. In the meantime, peruse some of the products that caught my eye as I roamed the show floor for two glorious plant-based days.

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Umaro Foods

Manufacturers and consumers alike are on the hunt for a better bacon alternative, and there were a few delicious entries in this category at the trade show. The one that made me double-take (literally—I had to go back for more) is from Umaro Foods and available in three varieties: Original, Maple Bourbon and Hickory Smoke. Bursting with flavor and sporting a seductive crunch, this bacon would be a win on taste alone. It was only later that I learned the bacon’s base is—surprise!—seaweed. The company is even working with two U.S. universities to “advance the first generation of offshore seaweed farming in the Gulf of Maine,” with the goal of making seaweed the new soy, as a source of protein that’s both sustainable and nutritious. How cool is that?

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MeliBio

Attendees were downright swarming this booth at the show, and for good reason: MeliBio is making the world’s first plant-based honey, one that promises “the real taste and nutritional profile of bee-made honey.” With this product, vegans—who do not consume the animal-based version—can once again enjoy honey-drizzled specialty pizzas, desserts and drinks. The bee-free honey was even given a special mention in Time magazine’s roundup of 2021’s best inventions, and I agree that it’s a game changer. While sampling a small spoonful, had I not known it wasn’t “real” honey, I would have never guessed it was an alternative. MeliBio calls itself “a food biotechnology company” with its sights set on disrupting “the unsustainable $9-billion global honey industry,” and looks like they’re on the right track—they’ve totally nailed this replica.

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Chicago Vegan Foods

We all know that pizza and ice cream go hand in hand, and personally I find that plant-based frozen desserts taste even better than their dairy counterparts. So I inhaled the generously sized show sample of Chicago Vegan Foods’ Temptation Vegan Soft Serve, a luxuriously creamy plant-based mix for foodservice, made from oats. The unique recipe for this dairy-free, soft-serve mix creates a frozen treat that’s not only decadently rich and smooth, but free of fat and cholesterol, 100% vegan and gluten-free, and made without peanuts or tree nuts. Shelf-stable for one year, it’s available in classic vanilla and chocolate base flavors as a customizable powder mix that’s easy to prepare (simply add cold water) and ready to use in any commercial soft-serve machine.

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Miyoko’s Creamery

I’d heard directly from vegan-friendly pizzerias that the new Miyoko’s Creamery Liquid Vegan Pizza Mozzarella is a new superstar in the plant-based cheese world, so I was excited to try it myself at the show. The company predicts it “has the potential to change the future of pizza,” thanks to a recipe “so good that pizza lovers cannot believe it is vegan.” In this unique formulation, rather than creating a traditional solid block of vegan cheese that is then shredded, Miyoko’s removed the additives, which tend to hinder one of the most in-demand characteristics for pizza: meltability. The liquid is crafted from organic cultured cashew milk and stripped down of excess ingredients or added flavors, instead receiving its delicious taste through fermentation. It’s also free of lactose, gluten, palm oil, soy and GMOs, and boasts the ability to melt, bubble and brown like the real thing. Sign me up!

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