Pace picks up for pea protein power

by Jeff Gelski
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Pea ingredients may add such promotable attributes as plant protein, gluten-free and non-G.M.O.

Pea protein ingredients are moving up the priority lists of product developers, judging by recent reports from both Mintel and Frost & Sullivan.

While pea protein was used in only 2% of global food and beverage product launches with a plant-based protein between 2010 and 2014, the number of food and drink product launches using pea protein increased 49% between 2013 and 2014, according to a report issued in March 2015 and written by Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst for Mintel.

Common claims associated with pea protein are gluten-free, no additives/preservatives, non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O., kosher, vegan and source of protein, Ms. Mattucci said. Peas are not considered a major allergen. Forty-eight per cent of global food and beverage launches that used a pea protein ingredient in 2014 had a low/no/reduced-allergen claim and 44% had a gluten-free claim, Ms. Mattucci said in her report. She added peas’ functional benefits include water-binding, gelation and emulsification.

Top 10 claims for pea protein.

Christopher Shanahan, global program manager, food and agriculture for Frost & Sullivan, talked about pea ingredients’ potential in his April 8 presentation at Ingredient Marketplace in Orlando, Fla. Legumes, including peas, made up 34% of non-soy plant protein products globally in 2014, he said. Within legumes, pea protein made up 55%.

He said Frost & Sullivan expects pea protein’s revenue to have a compound annual growth rate of 11.3% from 2014 to 2020 as peas are healthy, ethical, green/environmental and safe. North America contributes 30% of global pea protein concentrate consumption, according to Frost & Sullivan. That percentage may increase because of growing consumer interest in functional foods and beverages with added protein, Mr. Shanahan said. Europe, a mature market, accounts for 26% of global pea protein
concentrate consumption.

The Mintel report listed several new U.S. products that feature pea protein. Just Mayo Garlic from Hampton Creek features pea protein. Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken grilled strips offer 20 grams of protein per serving through the use of soy protein isolate and pea protein isolate. Kind’s Strong roasted jalapeño protein bar contains 10 grams of protein from almonds, pumpkin seeds, pea crisps made from pea protein isolate, and hemp seeds.

The amino acid composition of pea protein makes it a potential inclusion in sports recovery drinks, Ms. Mattucci said, but research about the effectiveness of the ingredient for sports recovery is limited. Pea protein is a rich source of branched-chain amino acids, glutamine, arginine and lysine, she said.

Lestrem, France-based Roquette has studied the effects of its Nutralys pea protein ingredient in building muscles. Roquette, together with the National Institute for Health and Medical Research and the Center for Performance Exercise in Dijon, France, conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 161 young men who underwent resistance training for 12 weeks. Twice a day they consumed a 25-gram dose of either whey protein, Nutralys pea protein or a control dose.

Kind’s Strong roasted jalapeño protein bar contains 10 grams of protein from almonds, pumpkin seeds, pea crisps made from pea protein isolate, and hemp seeds.

Consumption of whey and Nutralys produced significantly thicker muscle than the low protein control, said Neelesh Varde, Ph.D., senior product manager at Roquette. No appreciable difference was seen between Nutralys and whey.

“The data suggest that pea protein can be as efficient as whey in building muscle strength and thickness,” he said.

Nutralys, a pea protein isolate with a minimum content of 85% protein, comes from the yellow pea Pisum sativum, he said. Nutralys F functional grade works in spreads, cereal, snacks and extrusions like cereal crisps and textured meat analogs. Nutralys S works well in beverages and applications that need a lower viscosity. Nutralys BF is specifically for baking applications.

Protein levels of good source (5 grams per serving) and excellent source (10 grams per serving) may be achieved in products, Dr. Varde said. Adding other ingredients or using certain processing techniques may overcome a potential off-taste associated with pea proteins, he said. Protein levels depend on the applications. The excellent source of protein claim would be difficult to reach in certain applications such as protein gummies.

“For beverages, we’ve had customers put 20 grams of Nutralys into a serving of dry powder mix,” Dr. Varde said. “For nutrition bars, 10 to 15 grams per serving is easily doable. In extruded cereal crisps, the practical limit is around 60%.”

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