- Kerry introduced 13 new plant-based, allergen-free protein options made from pea, rice and sunflower protein sources. The ingredients are sold under the company’s Hyprol and ProDiem lines and can be used in a range of products, from infant formulas to senior protein beverages.
- These plant-based options rival dairy in terms of nutritional, functional and taste comparisons, the company said. They have a “complete protein” profile with a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of up to 100%.
- The ingredients are designed to fulfill the needs of creating both vegan and traditional product choices, while at the same time offering solubility, dispersibility and neutral taste.
The continued growth in the plant-based market — which Kerry projects to hit $24.5 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 9.1% — is driven in large part by increasing interest from consumers following flexitarian diets. Because of the growth of this crossover diet, plant-based protein options have exploded in popularity and have prompted companies to continually innovate the vegan protein options on the market to come closer to mimicking the taste, texture and nutritional profile of animal-based protein.
Kerry is committed to creating the ideal protein for a multitude of applications. It already has a sizable portfolio of plant-based protein options. Last year, Kerry launched its Radicle brand of plant-based ingredients for proteins and dairy alternatives. The company said the move was designed to boost nutrition in plant-based foods and result in more authentic tastes and cleaner labels. Earlier this year, Kerry acquired Pevesa Biotech, a Spanish company specializing in non-allergenic and organic plant protein ingredients for infant, general and clinical nutrition.
The company’s release of 13 new plant protein ingredients seeks to further improve the options that are already on the market. Its Hyprol and ProDiem lines fall into two buckets: functional beverages and food applications.
In the ProDiem line, taste is a particular focus. The nine protein options use Kerry’s flavor masking technology to reduce the characteristic off-notes traditionally associated with plant proteins. Additionally, the protein options in this line are made with smaller particles to reduce gritty texture and enhance the overall mouthfeel of products.
The Hyprol line is tailored for functional beverages and has a high solubility and pH stability to facilitate incorporation into beverages. In a recent white paper from the company, data show the functional beverage category is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2022, which makes it a lucrative target for manufacturers looking to attract customers and trial plant-based protein options. Protein is a particularly profitable choice for manufacturers in the functional beverage segment, as trends indicate consumers are turning away from claims of wellness and overall health and returning to simpler additions with proven efficacy, such as omega-3s, zinc, calcium, potassium and vitamins.
Despite significant investment in the space, plant-based protein options still struggle with barriers to widespread adoption. Taste, nutritional profile, clean-label ingredients, protein content and a limited variety of items continue to present a challenge to plant-based manufacturers. But taste remains the number one barrier for plant-based substitutes. Kerry’s latest line hones in on those barriers of taste and nutrition to work on elevating its ingredients in the eyes of the consumer, and by extension, manufacturers developing products in the space. Plant-based manufacturers can take advantage of these ingredients’ enhanced nutritional and flavor profiles to share the values of the various proteins on product labels and pique consumer interest.
If Kerry’s latest line of ingredients is successful in delivering on its claims, they may have a chance at expanding out of a strictly plant-based niche and begin replacing more traditional protein sources such as whey or casein in fitness and wellness categories. Should the company’s ingredients take a foothold in that space, it would open the door to a whole new market of consumers, and perhaps even work toward normalizing plant-based options as just another protein source.