Ingredient manufacturers are turning out a variety of pea protein products to meet consumer demand for healthier food options, including in the bakery segment, according to Baking Business.
As a result, muffins and biscuits — and other more healthy breakfast choices — are where people are looking for higher protein levels. Pea proteins also can replace allergens, including wheat, dairy and egg, which is one of their advantages over soy, wheat and whey substitutes.
Pea proteins are available as isolates, concentrates and flours. Their functions include water holding, gelation and more browning, especially for gluten-free products, ingredient supplier Ingredion told Baking Business.
Pea proteins are gaining popularity as a way to add the nutrient to products and help keep gluten-free items together. They offer functional benefits and a healthier image, which comes from a 25% protein content. According to Baking Business, that level exceeds wheat and rice, at 13% and 7%, respectively, but it falls short of soy's 34% protein content. However, pea proteins also have the asset of being more sustainably produced than soy, ingredients experts said.
Pea proteins do have some disadvantages as well, including lacking the amino acids lysine and threonine. This means they aren't complete proteins without being combined with rice, whey or soy — which can introduce allergen issues. Pea-derived protein products also can convey a vegetable flavor and a dry texture, neither being assets in the manufacturing process or to consumers on the retail end.
The ingredient has a number of positives attributes as well. Pea proteins have been found to help with triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Research on rats has shown they can aid in controlling cholesterol levels and also influence healthy blood pressure
Supplier Roquette said its biggest market for pea protein is the specialty nutrition sector for sports, clinical applications and weight management, but there is also strong demand from manufacturers of dairy-free and meat-free products. Ripple Foods has pea-based milk and yogurts they claim are tastier and more environmentally friendly than other plant-based products in the marketplace. The protein also is a major ingredient in Beyond Meat's plant protein-based burgers.
Manufacturers are finding other uses for pea proteins in a wide variety of baked products. According to Cargill, which makes an organic and non-GMO pea protein ingredient line called PURIS, they're being included in breads, waffles, cereals and snacks. This is in response to the 64% of consumers who, according to a 2016 International Food Information Council Foundation study, wanted to include more of the ingredient in their diets.
It's likely that more product applications will be emerging as the popularity of pea protein grows. The U.S. makes up the majority of the North American pea protein market, Research and Markets reported. The market value — estimated at $8.3 million last year — is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.5% through 2024.