US Foods this fall debuted a new climate-conscious product innovation category: Monogram Carbon-Negative Cutlery. Made from a blend of greenhouse gas-derived biomaterial combined with traditional polypropylene and minerals, it generates a negative carbon footprint.

It is the first line launched under the climate-conscious pillar in the Serve Good portfolio, which features items that contribute to the reduction greenhouse gases. 

“We have data showing that 70% of operators say improving sustainability is a top priority,” said Stacey Kinkaid, vice president of Product Development and Innovation at US Foods. “We knew there was an opportunity for more sustainable products when we launched the Serve Good portfolio back in 2016, with just a handful of products, and now we have over 950 products in the Serve Good line, speaking to the customer demand and how diners are looking for these types of products.”

Carbon-negative cutlery is designed to be a complement to existing options.

“We have a lot of different types of cutlery that we offer, from traditional plastic, to compostable, to now this carbon-negative option,” said Todd Jongen, senior director of Non-Foods Product Development and Packaging Science at US Foods. “The way to think about this product is upfront benefit – the benefit of the product is built-in, so-to-speak – you are using something that has already assumed greenhouse gases.” 

Carbon-negative cutlery is among the two dozen new products featured in US Foods’ “Fall Scoop,” most of which are frozen and refrigerated foods. Themed “Innovation Starts Here,” the “Scoop” reflects the latest menu trends, diner demands and operator needs.  

The Illinois-based foodservice distributor serves nearly 250,000 restaurants and foodservice operators nationwide and develops products through in-house expertise, market research, supplier relationships and restaurant tours. 

Our team spends a lot of time out in the field – we’re in restaurants and we’re experiencing food and the industry to stay on top of not only what is trending, but what are our operators’ needs right now,” Kinkaid said.

“It can take years to develop ‘Scoop’ products. Whether the operator’s focus is on driving traffic with a differentiated menu, standing out from the competitors, finding on-trend menu inspiration, addressing labor shortages or increasing profitability, ‘Scoop’s’ innovative products are here to help our operators ‘Make It.’” 

Product highlights include: 

  • Chef’s Line Kimchi Fried Rice: Knowing that kimchi fried rice is expected to grow in popularity, Eric Clark, US Foods chef-turned-product-developer, “scoured the globe” to find the right partner to help the company develop its gold-star recipe. Made in Asia, the item delivers a bold and complex flavor in a labor-saving format that cooks in minutes when thawed.
  • Patuxent Farms Taiwanese-Style Salt & Pepper Popcorn Chicken: US Foods Senior Product Developer Stanley Wu drew inspiration from Taiwan’s vibrant street food markets and restaurant tours to develop an approachable and authentic on-trend golden brown popcorn chicken with the flavors of salt, pepper, and five spice with other natural flavors including soy and mirin flavors.
  • Chef’s Line Italian Asiago Stuffed Gnocchi: US Foods Senior Product Developer Amy Bracco attributes a strong relationship with her Italian supplier as the key to landing on the final formulation of this labor-saving product after three years of development. The product was perfected during a supplier facility visit to Italy when the cheeses were whisked to blend instead of paddled, resulting in a creamier filling texture for the gnocchi. 
  • Monarch Sriracha Hot Honey: US Foods Associate Product Developer Jamie Burroughs aimed high to include two trending condiment offerings into this recipe: hot honey and the bold flavor of sriracha. The product uses Grade A wildflower honey combined with red chili peppers, vinegar and garlic from sriracha hot sauce. This highly versatile, labor-saving, ready-to-use condiment can also be used as a front-of-house squeeze bottle for condiment stations, bars or buffets.