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Product Focus: Plant Protein

Jan. 22, 2018
As protein becomes more sought-out by consumers, many manufacturers are infusing select products with a wide range of plant proteins.
Protein is one of the most sought-out nutrients by today’s consumers. With many trying to increase their intake of plant-based foods, varied plant proteins, ranging from pseudo-grains such as flax, hemp and quinoa to pulses and nuts, are finding their way into dairy alternatives, beverages, baked goods and snack foods.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2017 Annual Food and Health Survey showed 73% of shoppers view plant proteins as healthy, as compared to only 38% for animal protein. And while less than 2% of shoppers view plant protein as unhealthy, this is how 10% characterize protein from animal sources.

This is fueling more innovation with plant proteins; however, one of the challenges that product developer’s face is masking their often beany, grainy or green flavor profiles. Product developers often find that plant protein blends work best.

For example, in the beverage sector, Califia Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., reformulated and extended its line of Protein Almondmilk to now offer 8g of protein per serving, which is comparable in protein content to an 8-oz. glass of dairy milk. The protein comes from rice, peas and maca root powder. The line includes Maca-‘Nilla (vanilla and cardamom), Choc-A-Maca (chocolate) and Maca-Spresso (coffee). Emeryville, Calif.-based Rebbl now offers Cold-Brew Protein. A 12-oz bottle contains 12g of protein from peas and sunflowers in a coconut milk and cold-brew coffee base.

In snack foods, PowerBar Plant Protein bars are made with nuts, seeds and crisped rice, with each bar containing 10-11g of protein from almond, cashew or peanut sources, depending on flavor, and 7-8g of fiber. Liberty, N.Y.-based BFY Foods now offers non-GMO and gluten-free light and crispy plant-protein-packed popped snacks named Our Little Rebellion Protein Crisps. Boasting 10g of protein per serving from cassava and soy, the crisps come in Hot Buffalo, Sweet and Smoky Barbecue and Wasabi Ginger varieties.

“More plant-based, protein-packed options that are healthier and more sustainable will continue to be sought out by a wide demographic of consumers, from millennials to boomers to young parents looking to feed their kids better food that’s also better for the planet” Nate Hereford, product development, Hampton Creek, San Francisco

Products to Watch

Coconut Protein Blend, www.DrinkApres.com

Après developed a namesake plant-based protein beverage designed specifically for premium whole-body replenishment. The drink combines a proprietary blend of organic plant proteins (pea, chia, cacao and hemp), organic virgin coconut oil and organic coconut water. The shelf-stable 11-oz. cartons contain 13g of protein, delivering all essential amino acids to promote satiety and a healthy, lean physique. The virgin coconut oil supplies sustainable energy through medium-chain fatty acids, while the coconut water provides electrolyte hydration and a silky smooth texture. The low sugar (6g) beverage comes in Mint Cacao, Sea Salt Chocolate and Chai Spiced Vanilla varieties.

Protein Cookies, www.nugonutrition.com

NuGo Nutrition is expanding its line of products with NuGo Protein Cookies. These gluten-free, vegan, pea protein cookies pack in 16g of protein and 10-12g of fiber in every 100g cookie. Varieties are: Peanut Butter Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Oatmeal Raisin and Dark Chocolate Chip. The company prides itself on the use of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate made with natural cocoa butter, which provides a smooth texture that releases immense real chocolate flavor. The cookies join the company’s plant protein bars, which includes low-sugar and extra-high protein options.

Drinkable Peas, www.bolthouse.com

Campbell Soup Co., introduces Bolthouse Farms Plant Protein Milk, a perishable beverage containing 10g of pea protein per 8-oz. serving versus 1g of protein in almond milk. It also has 50% more calcium than dairy milk. The beverage is vegan, non-GMO and does not contain common allergens like dairy, nuts and soy, nor intolerances like lactose and gluten. Merchandised in the refrigerated dairy case, it comes in a multi-serve 48-oz. plastic bottle in four flavors--Chocolate, Original, Unsweetened and Vanilla and Chocolate--with a suggested retail price of $4.99.

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