What’s Feeding the Interest in Plant Proteins?

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Consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of animal sourcing and processing combined. And there’s growing interest in the link between alternative proteins and health. Both trends are feeding a growing interest in plant proteins.

Plant proteins are gaining market traction and innovation is driving supply chain efficiencies and improving sensory and functional characteristics. In response, we help fast-moving consumer goods companies evaluate strategies and seize opportunities in space.

Taking a broad view, we assess technical aspects. These include impacts on labeling, consumer perception, regulatory status, supply chain, and product development. We ensure our clients align efforts and allocate resources to areas, technologies, and partners that support opportunities in the plant protein market.

Among the trends that most impact our clients, we see two that stand out.

Identifying Alternative Proteins for Optimal Health

Piggybacking off consumers’ demand for products that deliver improved health, there are concerns about the consumption of plant-based foods and potentially inadequate protein intake. At the same time, there’s a lack of scientific studies supporting plant proteins’ nutritional aspects. Outside of soy, rice, pea, and wheat, we see a need to evaluate and compare quality, digestibility, and health benefits of plant to animal proteins.

We advise ingredient suppliers and brand manufacturers on how to select and include plant proteins in their portfolios. Using our interactive evaluation matrices, clients can assess plant proteins’ critical success factors that may unlock growth. Success factors could be amino acid profiles, digestibility, generally recognized as safe status, functional and sensory performance, and leading technology and processing innovations. We explore opportunities by combining plant proteins based on functionality and amino acid content to deliver products for specific needs. These include sports nutrition, infants, women’s health, and baby boomers, for example.

Achieving Structure-Function Processing Innovation

Remember the first-generation plant protein products that used a single protein source (soy or pea) and lacked flavor and texture? Today’s plant protein products come in a range of tasty and satisfying options. The second-generation products use plant protein blends to overcome earlier hurdles.

Yet, however good the current products are, consumers want even more; they’re asking for bold flavors and unique textures that mimic traditional animal-based products. For example, in products where sensory aspects play a prominent role, plant proteins continue to fall behind traditional protein sources.

Companies are working to address plant proteins’ shortcomings with seasonings or by developing complementary ingredients with flavor houses. Yet there remains a need for protein blends to match the functional aspects of the animal-derived protein they are replacing. We work with product developers to achieve the ideal functionality and textural characteristics. And we identify ingredients that deliver on taste and texture.

Do you want to understand the growing plant protein space? Or incorporate plant-based nutrition in your portfolio? Let’s talk.

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