Pea protein picks up as healthy alternative food ingredient
- Pea protein is on the rise as a healthful food ingredient for food companies looking to augment products with additional protein. Adding protein to foods has become more common as more companies respond to consumers' calls for healthier, more nutritious foods.
- Market consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that from 2014 to 2020, pea protein’s revenue will see a compound annual growth rate of 11.3%. Between 2010 to 2014, pea protein was used in 2% of global food and beverage product launches with a plant-based protein, but from 2013 to 2014, that number of product launches jumped 49%.
- "Legumes, including peas, made up 34% of non-soy plant protein products globally in 2014," according to Frost & Sullivan.
Another part of the appeal of pea protein is the claims food companies can make when using it in their products, including gluten-free, no additives/preservatives, non-bioengineered/non-GMO, kosher, and vegan. It is also not considered a major allergen, leading many product launches to make claims of being a low/no/reduced-allergen food or beverage, popular in free-from focused consumer health circles.
These claims are vital for food companies looking to adapt to the renewed health focus consumers have for the foods they buy. This is particularly true for processed food companies which are trying to revitalize older brands deemed not as healthy or nutritious.
Some studies have also shown pea protein to be comparable in some ways to whey protein, while being dairy-free and vegan-friendly. This would mean pea protein could find itself in the sports food and beverage industries too, such as protein bars and snacks as well as sports recovery drinks.
Still another viable industry for pea protein is the cereal market. Being able to add more protein to cereal could be one way to lure consumers back, as some brands, like General Mills' Cheerios Protein, already have attempted.
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