IFT FIRST: Versatile plant protein solutions sizzle in next-gen alt-meats, frothing up dairy-free milks
12 Jul 2022 --- The ongoing IFT FIRST Annual Event and Expo is shining a light on the latest iterations of plant-based innovation powering through in food formulation. At the show, significant attention has been paid to a rising star in the plant-based category – pulses, such as faba bean and chickpea – which offer distinct health benefits while packing a protein punch.
FoodIngredientsFirst is reporting live from the show floor of the event, hosted in Chicago, US (July 11 to 13), speaking to key exhibitors at the show.
According to functional ingredients supplier Beneo’s recent consumer survey, nearly half of US consumers are “very interested” in plant-based nutrition (42%). Whereas 10% identify as vegans, vegetarians, or pescatarians, more than twice as many consumers polled (22%) identify as flexitarians.
Beneo details that product launches tracked with pulses posted a CAGR of 20% in the recent past (2016 to 2021), with expectations for future growth.
Creamy alternative to soy
Beneo is highlighting its new faba bean protein concentrate alongside a starch-rich flour during this year’s event. While having a creamy mild taste in formulations, faba beans fix nitrogen from the air, which reduces fertilizer requirements and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the farm level.
“The big thing for us at the show this year is our continuing strategy to move into the plant-based protein space. That’s not new to Beneo. We’ve had rice protein, texturized wheat protein products and also vital wheat gluten that we’ve marketed over the years,” notes John Peters, regional sales director for the Americas at Beneo.
“But we’ve had a renewed strategy in the last couple of years to be more proactive in the plant-based protein space given the high demand.”
As a vegetable protein, Beneo’s faba bean protein concentrate can replace animal protein (milk, egg) as well as soy protein in certain applications. “It has an excellent amino acid profile and shows high solubility as well as very good emulsifying properties and, due to these technical characteristics, is also suitable for dairy alternatives and some savory applications,” says Peters.
Meanwhile, Beneo’s faba bean starch-rich flour, being naturally high in protein, can help boost the protein content in applications such as cereal bars, pasta, snacks or baked goods.
“In April, we announced a US$54 million investment into a new pulse processing plant in Offstein, Germany, which will be operational in 2024,” highlights Peters.
Other featured offerings from Beneo’s new ingredient range include a cookie dough-flavored plant-based protein bar with chocolate enrobing. It contains 16 grams of plant-based protein from faba bean and rice per serving and offers a clean flavor profile and soft texture.
The company is also spotlighting its prebiotic chicory root fibers Orafti Inulin and Oligofructose; the “smart carbohydrate”, Palatinose for sustained energy; the tooth-friendly sugar replacer Isomalt; and a wide range of specialty rice ingredients.
acquired Dutch company Meatless, broadening its portfolio with a versatile selection of plant-based solutions that serve as texturizers for meat and fish alternatives. “We’re really excited about it. As that acquisition comes up and running, we’ll consider other geographies beyond Europe,” Peters comments.Earlier this year, Beneo
Textured plant protein innovation
A&B Ingredients is also exhibiting its clean-tasting textured faba bean proteins, branded Texta Feve. The new line is well-suited for use in meat analogs and plant-based foods, creating a familiar meat-like texture and bite.
“Faba beans have a cleaner taste with no lingering legume aftertaste compared to alternatives. This makes Texta Feve a superior product that can be used to create better-tasting products with meat-like texture and improved bite in plant-based meat applications,” explains Gil Bakal, managing director at A&B Ingredients.
New Texta Feve proteins offer water-binding capacity, while being allergen-free. It is marketed as an alternative to soy and wheat protein products. The product also has higher process tolerance, providing an enhanced meat-patty structure in plant-based burgers.
The trend of scaling faba applicability is not expected to slow anytime soon. In other faba bean developments this year, nutrition giant Chr. Hansen recently unveiled soy- and dairy-free cream cheese made from the highly functional legume.
Faba beans have also been hailed as highly synergistic with other plant-based ingredients. Last May, Nutris Group opened what it calls the “first European hybrid factory” for the production of plant-based ingredients made from faba beans and potatoes in Novi Senkovac, Croatia.
A sip of chickpea
At IFT FIRST, food-tech Israeli start-up ChickP is introducing its protein isolates customized for trendy dairy-alternative barista-style coffee drinks.
The company developed an advanced prototype of a chickpea-based coffee creamer, intended to demonstrate the versatility of ChickP’s pure protein, next to its applicability as an egg replacer for vegan mayonnaise.
“Our chickpea S930 and G910 isolate are the most refined form of protein with the advantage of matching color, flavor, and functional properties to food and beverage applications,” notes Maor Dahan, application manager at ChickP.
Accurately recreating flavor, texture and nutritional values in dairy milk analogs with plant-based alternatives has historically posed significant formulation challenges. Many plant proteins on the market have bitter or off flavors, low protein content, and grainy or chalky textures.
“Even with the use of multiple masking agents, added sugar, or flavor modifiers, the results lack the appearance and organoleptic characteristics of real, creamy milk. Moreover, the long list of ingredients on the label can be negative for consumers.
“Plant-based barista drinks set new challenges,” explains Liat Lachish Levy, CEO of ChickP. “Consumers want a holistic, better-for-you, yet full flavor experience. Our technologists took full advantage of our new state-of-the-art application lab to overcome organoleptic and technical challenges in creating creamy, dairy-free ‘milk’ for the perfect cappuccino.”
“Our ChickP protein ticks all the boxes,” he continues. “It’s packed with highly nutritious complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. But more than that, it has a rich texture, and provides smooth, stable full foaming, with a white color, perfect for showcasing the most artful barista’s skills.
“We currently are developing over twenty plant-based applications with leading food and beverage companies with our pure ChickP protein.”
By Benjamin Ferrer, with additional reporting from Gaynor Selby at IFT FIRST
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