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(CES) Meet 'K-desserts,' with heap of green tech touch

All News 09:34 January 05, 2023

By Kim Seung-yeon

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- For anyone who has experienced Korean culture, they should be familiar with the letter "K" being used like a prefix to highlight the Korean identity, like K-pop that has become so widely known.

In a corner of this year's CES, a show that outdoes the conventional in the mecca of the world's tech innovation, one can try "K-desserts."

A food truck, set up in the Central Plaza outside the main exhibition hall of the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center, serves "bingsu," a traditional Korean ice dessert topped with red beans.

Bingsu comes in a bowl of shaved frozen milk or condensed milk that makes it look like fluffy snow with various toppings of choice. Toppings run from red bean paste mounted with chopped fruit and jelly cubes, a traditional way, to green tea-based shaved ice with a scoop of ice cream of the same flavor and one filled with mango, new approaches.

The bingsu being served at the food truck, run by SK Inc., a South Korean investment company, may look like a bowl of plain red bean bingsu found just about everywhere back home, until you're struck by the fact that the ice is actually made with animal-free milk.

SK's sustainable food truck serves Korean desserts made with plant-based milk in the Central Plaza outside the main exhibition hall of the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center on Jan. 4, 2023. (Yonhap)

SK's sustainable food truck serves Korean desserts made with plant-based milk in the Central Plaza outside the main exhibition hall of the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center on Jan. 4, 2023. (Yonhap)

David Beckham, a 23-year-old from California, said he found it amusing that what he had just tasted was not made with real milk.

"I think it has enough sweetness in the ice. It just tastes like the real thing for the most part," he said, adding it's the first time he had tried a Korean dessert.

The plant-based milk is developed by Perfect Day, a U.S. food tech startup that produces animal-free proteins, produced by growing fungi in fermentation tanks. It can be used to produce common dairy products, like milk, cheese and ice cream.

Puffed rice crackers, or "ppeongtwigi" in Korean, served with salty cream cheese made with the non-animal protein, and mint chocolate ice cream sandwiches made with the same protein, were also on the menu.

Alternative foods have gained traction for their potential to help lower greenhouse gas emissions, as food systems are blamed for causing global warming. Production involves emitting harmful substances like methane from growing livestock and consumes energy for food refrigeration.

SK has invested in sustainable foods, including Perfect Day; Nature's Fynd, a Chicago food company that makes animal-free proteins derived from fungi; and Meatless Farm, a British food tech firm that makes plant-based burger patties and hot dogs.

This photo shows cups of special "bingsu," a traditional Korean ice dessert, made with plant-based milk (on the bottom), and "ppeongtwigi," puffy rice crackers (on the top), served with cream cheese made with non-animal proteins. These sustainable food products will be served at a food truck run by SK outside the main exhibition hall at CES, due to take place in Las Vegas from Jan. 5-8, 2023. (Yonhap)

This photo shows cups of special "bingsu," a traditional Korean ice dessert, made with plant-based milk (on the bottom), and "ppeongtwigi," puffy rice crackers (on the top), served with cream cheese made with non-animal proteins. These sustainable food products will be served at a food truck run by SK outside the main exhibition hall at CES, due to take place in Las Vegas from Jan. 5-8, 2023. (Yonhap)

Recently, SK announced it invested around 10 billion won (US$7.8 million) in Wildtype Foods, a California-based producer of cultivated seafood. It has developed a technology to produce "lab-grown" salmon cultivated from cells.

"Sustainable food is a promising field that comes with a great environmental value," said Kim Moo-hwan, head of SK's Green Investment Center. "We'll seek to boost synergy by expanding our global business with our partner companies that possess core technologies."

The global food-tech industry is forecast to grow at an average 6 percent annually to a size amounting to $342.5 billion by 2027, compared with $220.3 billion in 2019, according to SK, citing an analysis by Emergen Research.

elly@yna.co.kr
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