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National Restaurant Association’s Four-Day Chicago Show in Full Swing

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With anticipated participation from over 55,000 foodservice industry professionals, organizers of the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show are  hosting one of its largest shows since 2019. Boasting an expanded show floor footprint of 10% compared to 2023, this year’s event is featuring over 2,240 exhibitors at McCormick Place in Chicago from May 18-21.

Tom Cindric, president of the National Restaurant Association Show, remarked: “This event remains unparalleled in its ability to showcase the industry’s vitality and drive innovation forward. With each passing year, it provides a comprehensive snapshot of the industry’s trajectory, shaped by the collective contributions of our diverse exhibitors. We eagerly anticipate the influx of new voices and ideas, alongside the continued insights from our returning participants.”

The 2024 edition boasts expansive exhibit space covering 700,000+ square feet, the size of over 12 football fields. With more than 900 product categories on display, ranging from food and beverage to equipment, technology, AI-powered solutions, emerging global flavors, and more, attendees are experiencing a comprehensive array of the latest innovations driving the foodservice industry.

This year’s event welcomes more than 600 international exhibitors, representing 28% of the total exhibitors, from countries spanning the globe including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan and Spain.

Salute to Fabulous FABI Favorites
Thirty-five innovative products will receive 2024 Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards at the show, with 10 having earned the prestigious title of FABI Favorites by the judges, underscoring their unmatched influence and visionary contributions to the industry. Among the frozen favorites are:

Revel Eats Horchata Bites from Ajinomoto Foods North America
This Latin-inspired treat (pictured above), crafted from a blend of cream cheese and horchata flavors, including cinnamon, vanilla, and rice flour, is distributed in two-pound bags. The bite-sized morsels are coated in a crispy oat breading, adding to a symphony of Latin textures and tastes. Easy to prepare, they are ready to plate after three minutes of deep frying at 350°F. Check out the product at Lakeside Center Booth #8416.

Black Sheep Foods’ Plant-based Meat Bites
These seasoned plant-based bites deliver on flavor, texture and price. Easy to use, operators cook them from frozen and apply to dishes across the menu, including tacos, wraps, salads, bowls, pasta, sandwiches, and more. Soy, GMO, and top-nine Allergen free, the bites are high in and protein, low in saturated fat. Samples are available in the South Building at Booth #282.

ReadyCarved Pork Al Pastor from Grecian Delight | Kronos
Presented as “a culinary breakthrough in convenience and authenticity,” the product (pictured aobove)is produced through vacuum marination, hand stacked on a traditional spit, flame-broiled rotisserie style, and carved off the cone. The fully cooked delicacy offers operators an efficient way to serve genuine Puebla, Mexico street food, elevating menus effortlessly.

Oggi Food Gluten Free Roman-Style Pinsa Flatbread
This FABI Favorite product is hand-stretched and stone-baked. This crust is made with premium quality flours while leaving out gluten and GMOs. This Gluten Free crust truly has the taste and texture of traditional authentic, artisan-style flatbread pizza.

With its origins in Naples, Italy, the city that claimed to have set the standard for pizza and pasta, Oggi Foods makes a variety of high quality frozen products that are delicious, nutritious, and all-natural. Its pizza crusts provide a convenient and premium solution for foodservice establishments looking to meet the growing demand for gluten-free products that taste great, including Cauliflower Pizza Crust. Check out its offerings Lakeside Center Booth 9247.

Double Happiness for Konscious Foods
Athother FABI Award winner, though not snagging a Top 10 Favorites nod, is Konscious Foods. Its thaw-and-serve Plant-Based California Sushi Rolls and Plant-Based Sno’ Crab are well worth mentioning in this space. The California Rolls feature clean label, wholesome ingredients in a unique bulk-pack format for easy access. Both products may be stored in the freezer until needed and and do not require skilled labor. Samples are available at Booth #1290 in the South Building.

Launched in 2023, the Konscious Foods brand created the world’s first frozen plant-based sushi rolls, onigiri, and poke bowls. All of its products are Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten free, organic where possible, and made without any carrageenan or titanium dioxide. The brand was founded by Chef Yves Potvin, creator of Gardein products, which are in the Conagra Foods retail portfolio.

The FABI Awards spotlight the most innovative and forward-thinking flavors of the year, driving trends and satisfying today’s consumer demands for more sustainable and eco-friendly products. Each product submission was evaluated by an independent panel of judges from across the foodservice industry who represent some of the most well known brands and organizations, including Wendy’s, Aramark and Pizza Hut Global. Recipients are chosen based on their novel flavors, market uniqueness, appeal to operators, innovative solutions to industry challenges, and profit potential.

“By recognizing products that exemplify creativity, uniqueness, and the ability to address current and emerging consumer needs and trends, the FABI Awards not only celebrate innovation but also drive it forward,” stated Zia Ahmed, senior director at Ohio State University and 2024 FABI judge. “As we look ahead, technological innovation is poised to cater to evolving dietary preferences, offering plant-based foods with intensified flavors and reimagining traditional beverages and foods in alternative formats. These trends, while initially leading to innovation, are set to shape the future of cuisine while maintaining a focus on nutritional balance and sustainability.”