Pea protein will lead plant-based
Pea protein, the next leader in plant-based fields!
The rise of plant proteins has been a major trend in the food and beverage industry over the past few years, including soybeans, rice, and other plant-based proteins. And recently, the popularity of pea protein has quickly surpassed other plant proteins, becoming a popular ingredient. The driving factors behind this may include the development of plant-based food and beverage brands, such as the success of Ripple Foods, and the optimistic market performance of Beyond Meat, a vegetarian burger using pea protein. In such a dynamic market, what are the innovative forces behind the rise of pea protein, and what are the future opportunities and challenges in this field?
▎From Ripple Foods to Bolthouse Farms, the pea protein market is in full swing
According to data from Global Market Insights, due to its nutritional value and sustainability as a crop, the global pea protein market is expected to grow at a rate of 13.5% per year by 2023.
Ripple Foods was an earlier company that developed products using pea protein, and its early commercial success opened the door to the prosperity of pea protein beverages.
Since launching a pea protein beverage in 2014, Ripple Foods has utilized patented technology to not only provide products with high protein content, but also reduce the dryness inherent in the ingredients. Ripple Foods has raised more than $ 44 million from Silicon Valley investors such as Google, and has expanded from natural food channels into traditional retail channels such as Target. According to Bloomberg, Ripple has sold 2.5 million bottles of products and earned more than $ 20 million in revenue.
As milk sales are expected to continue to decline, other brands are also paying attention to this rapidly growing market. In September, Bolthouse Farms, a subsidiary of Campbell Soup, announced the launch of a plant milk containing 10g of pea protein per serving. CytoSport, a company that once launched Muscle Milk based on whey protein, has now shifted its research focus to plant-based fields. They have launched a new series of ready-to-drink milkshakes and instant powder Evolve made of pea protein.
▲ CytoSport Evolve Real Plant-Powered Protein Shake
▲ CytoSport Evolve Plant-Based Vegan Protein powder
In the food industry, pea protein has become a core ingredient for brands to pivot to meatless products. In July, Beyond Meat promoted its Beyond Burger with pea protein to more than 600 Kroger supermarkets.
Food ingredient manufacturers are eager to continue expanding pea protein production. In September, French company Roquette celebrated the start of a new pea protein factory in Canada with an estimated processing capacity of more than 120,000 tons per year. Company CEO Jean-Marc Gilson said that this is an important step for Roquette in North America and the plant protein business development strategy.
▎Technical innovation drives pea protein market to maturity
In order to push pea proteins from the edge to the mainstream, suppliers must first address several key challenges related to their applications.
First, improving the dispersibility of pea protein products is an eternal theme. Glanbia Nutrition has introduced BevEdge, a particle dispersion technology that instantly dissolves pea proteins. Linda Wilson, senior director of product management at Glanbia, explains that customers are increasingly looking for solutions that dissolve quickly, especially in the beverage industry where undissolved protein residues can cause grit. BevEdge embodies the requirements for the ease of use of the product, which does not cause clumping when used, which is simple and convenient, which is the key to solving the problem.
(▲ At the same time,PP80Plus of Aidoli Company perfectly solves the problems of taste and dispersibility / solubility. PP80Plus can achieve the best taste and dispersibility / solubility without adding any additives. What's more, it also has excellent stability. This fundamentally fulfills the demand for ready-to-drink beverages.)
▲ BevEdge ™ Pea Protein
Improving the dispersibility of pea protein can be traced back to the front end of the supply chain. Suppliers need to consider where and how to purchase their crop raw materials, mainly yellow peas. Plant materials come into contact with oils or certain enzymes, which are easily affected and cause adverse reactions when the protein is extracted, which makes the process of harvesting, transportation and storage particularly important.
Richard Ray, a sales manager and brewing science expert at Canadian plant protein ingredients leader Axiom Foods, said, "Every step must now be cautious, even water is a big deal. He praised the Food Safety Modernization Act" to promote suppliers and farmers. Closer cooperation and greater accountability have made farmers have a stronger position in communicating with suppliers. In the past, "almost close" was enough. Now, due to higher consumer demands, We have more motivation to do our work better. Now our understanding of chemistry is much better than before, which explains why we do it, how to do it, and it makes us obtain Some progress has been made. As we have known for many years, we must go further in the supply chain to truly manage the product. "
For all food ingredients, taste and flavor remain the main indicators of success. In the case of pea protein, the goal is to achieve a neutral flavor as much as possible, thereby reducing the need for flavoring and masking agents. Manufacturers need to develop with parameters that maintain clean ingredient characteristics and non-GMO production requirements, and this will be a very difficult process.
Maggie Harding, sales manager of The Scoular, a pea protein supplier with 85% market share, also said: "Taste is a big issue for the industry. Pea milk, as a beverage that is about to become popular, needs some more clean label, Clean ingredients to match. Consumers prefer more concise labels, so simple ingredients and satisfying taste are probably the most difficult problem to overcome. "
The key to the future development of pea protein: flavor improvement, quality certification and by-product processing
The ability of pea protein suppliers to improve the taste of raw materials has triggered a series of positive feedback from the food industry.
When Axiom developed pea protein, it reduced its dependence on flavoring and masking agents, which allowed food manufacturers to use fewer additives and reduce product costs. In addition to adjusting thickness and other physical properties, pea protein can also be used as a substitute for stabilizers in beverages, or like the company's Vegotein MA, as an enhancer of meat texture.
Nevertheless, Solvay, which provides vanillin as a flavor masking agent to pea protein producers, still sees a broad prospect for the development of this ingredient along with pea protein. Edouard Janssen, vice president and general manager of the company's flavor business in North America and Latin America, said that as raw material producers refine plant proteins to higher purity, flavor will become a bigger issue. After pea protein enters the mainstream packaged food field from niche fitness products, consumers will not be willing to compromise on taste. The application of pea protein is constantly expanding, and we need to adjust our products to achieve the expected quality on the market. For us, the new challenge is to classify the quality grades of these pea proteins and improve their taste according to different grades of products. "
Jean-Pierre Cuif, Global Business Manager, Solvay's Fragrance Business, said, "Many partner companies tell us that these odors limit their business growth. And the solutions we provide can enable them to gain more growth potential. To help cover For certain off-flavors and creating a more neutral flavor overall, Solvay can provide pea protein suppliers with free use of its vanillin products, the purpose of which is to provide pea protein products with a more harmonious, near-real and beautiful flavor, not those that Liked flavors, so flavors can also be applied more directly to the final product. "
As large CPG companies begin to gradually introduce pea protein-based products, the importance of pea protein's health and safety certification is also increasing. Kay Abadee, Axiom's vice president of marketing, pointed out that many large companies are looking for pea proteins that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US FDA. In terms of organic certification, the demand is not particularly obvious. Although Glanbia, Axiom, Nutria and other companies provide organic pea varieties, the time and cost required to upgrade traditional farms to organic farms is very large, which means that The final product price is much higher than the original.
Organic peas are rare on the market, and the price of organic pea protein will be more than double that of ordinary products. However, as demand continues to grow, farmers will grow more organic peas. However, this may also cause some other problems.
Abadee pointed out that manufacturers' high demand for organic pea protein raises the issue of certification legitimacy. "That's one of our concerns. We know how much organic farming costs. So how do you sell organic produce at a low price? Farmers have to cultivate organic peas for three years before they get certified, so they have to bear the cost, But there is no source of expenses. Where do they use the money, what are the benefits of conversion? How can raw material suppliers provide organic products with the same or similar costs as before? In fact, if they want to ensure that peas are organic, it is difficult for them to Continue to operate or make a profit. "
On the other hand, organic pea protein has become a growing profit point for Glanbia companies in this field, and the interest from some major customer brands is particularly worthy of attention. Glanbia's Wilson said, "I expect this ratio may be one-third of organic products and two-thirds of ordinary products. This ratio may change in the future, but both will be on the growth track."
Whether it is natural or organic, producing pea protein that can meet market demand is a challenge for suppliers in this field. Another big question is what to do with a lot of by-products? For example, how to deal with these by-products of pea starch produced in the process of protein extraction before increasing yields must also be considered.
Axiom is considering relocating the primary processing business of peas to the Asian market, as pea starch is a commonly used ingredient in noodles. Developing new uses of by-products could be one of the keys to cracking down on the pea protein production dilemma.