Pea protein (EU), in its many forms, is surging in popularity. Mintel’s Global New Products Database shows products launching globally with pea protein as an ingredient increased from 73 in 2011 to more than 340 in the past year!
The appeal of pea protein lies in its lack of allergenicity and its amino acid profile. If you want to formulate a high-protein product that has no gluten (EU), egg or dairy, pea protein is a good place to start when exploring ingredient possibilities. In terms of nutritional benefits, it has better levels of lysine (EU) and glutamine (EU) than other plant based proteins. Pea protein is perceived as a clean label ingredient and has the added benefits of being soy-free, gluten-free, and lactose-free.
Pea protein has excellent emulsification properties, binding both fat and water for a stable emulsion. This is beneficial for egg replacement and is demonstrated well in Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, replacing the eggs with pea protein to make a vegan “mayonnaise.” It’s also helpful in reducing the fat content of salad dressings, with little impact on mouthfeel or flavor. Beyond Meat uses pea protein for producing meat alternatives, lending a chewy, meat-like texture to their products. It can also be used in ground beef products to act as a binder, increasing the cook yield of meats.
Consider pea protein for applications where partial or whole egg removal may have textural impacts, such as cake or waffle mixes, and egg noodles. It can withstand the rigors of bakery processing, improving softness in breads when added at low levels. The Northern Pulse Growers Association offers some formulations with pea protein as an egg substitute in this flyer. They show the functionality of pea protein as an egg/milk replacer in cakes, cookies, pasta and cupcakes, and also offer formulations as starting points. Pea protein concentrates demonstrate exceptional volume increases when used for increasing foaming capacity, which can aid in reducing the bulk density of the foods you are developing.
This plant-based protein demonstrates stability under high stress processes, and won’t lose functionality when exposed to extreme processing temperatures, pH changes or high pressure. It works well as a protein replacement in extruded snacks and cereals, maintaining structural stability and consistent texture. Its functionality in extruded applications is demonstrated in a new protein chip called ProTings, where pea protein isolate is mixed with potato to create a snack chip.
When considering its use for gluten-free formulations, pea protein has been shown to have the most acceptable sensory characteristics compared to other alternative proteins, according to this article. To use it in a nutritional beverage mix or wet aseptic product, consider ways to improve the suspension of proteins using starches, cellulose or thickening agents, to minimize settling.
Formulation challenges with pea protein are in the flavor arena. Consumers have high expectations for taste to be similar to more conventional products – no off flavors, colors or odd textures. FONA typifies the flavor descriptors commonly used to describe pea protein as earthy and nutty, and suggests that a nutty flavor may be the best flavor to consider if wanting to work within pea protein’s flavor attributes. Take care when formulating with cocoa (EU) and high pea protein content, as it will reduce the product sweetness and cocoa flavor, as well as causing negative flavor issues, according to this research document.
With the increase in new products focusing on protein content, consider pea proteins as a potential ingredient, but be aware of the risks and challenges. The non-allergenic status and clean label potential may open a new range of opportunities for your product development work.
Roquette Nutralys® Pea Protein – IFT Expo
Roquette Nutralysis® Pea Protein in Texturized Petfood
2014 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar – formulating with proteins – sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients
J. Soderberg – Functional Properties of Legume Proteins Compared to Egg Proteins and Their Potential as Egg Replacers in Vegan Food, Masters Thesis, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
M. Tiessen-Dyck – Pea Protein – volatile compound interactions: effect of binding, heat, and extraction on protein functionality, Masters Thesis, University of Manitoba
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