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Shake Shack Tests Oil to Make Its Fries Healthier and Greener

(Bloomberg) —

Your next ’shroom burger from Shake Shack Inc. may be prepared using a frying oil that comes from sugarcane.

At two New York City locations, Shake Shack will swap out soybean oil for a cultured alternative made by Zero Acre, which said its sugarcane-derived version is healthier, more environmentally friendly and doesn’t alter the taste of the food. It will use the oil to cook items including its crinkle-cut fries, veggie burger, mushroom burger and chicken bites.

For Zero Acre, the tests at Shake Shack’s Hudson Yards and Battery Park City locations represent one of its first forays into the foodservice sector. The San Mateo, California-based company has received investment from Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

The oil is made through fermentation that results from mixing a culture with sugarcane, which microorganisms turn into fat. The culture is then pressed to release the oil, separated and filtered. 

According to Zero Acre, its cultured alternative is more expensive than soybean oil but has more of the healthier mono-unsaturated fats than olive oil. The company also says that compared to soybean oil, its product requires 90% less land, 83% less water and emits 86% fewer greenhouse gases. Zero Acre said it has enough supply for Shake Shack and other future users, though it will need more capacity to satisfy what is says is growing demand.

Shake Shack is testing the cultured alternative as soybean oil gets increasingly diverted to biofuel in the US, leaving less available for food and feed. 

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