- Pea protein outperforms many other plant protein sources in nutrition terms, but masking its pea-like flavor and aroma is still a challenge, reports FoodBusinessNews.
Shakes, bars and baked goods made with pea protein often require additional ingredients to mask or modify the pea protein flavor. This task may be easier for some flavors, like chocolate and vanilla, than it is for others, like strawberry.
- Suggested approaches include the use of high intensity sweeteners, aromatic flavors, or other plant protein sources, like macadamia nuts, almonds or pumpkin. Meanwhile, Cargill says that its pea protein is made from specially selected peas to minimize off-flavors.
Pea protein has caught consumers' attention in a big way in recent years, and the number of new products containing the ingredient jumped 195% from 2013 to 2016, according to Mintel data. For manufacturers, its benefits include that it is non-GMO, allergen-free, vegan and kosher.
However, its distinctive pea-like taste has been a frequent stumbling block in new product development. The UK bakery firm Warburton's said flavor was its biggest hurdle in developing a bread fortified with pea protein. To overcome this challenge, it worked with Canadian researchers to help develop a database of flavors and functions for pulses in baked goods. The database is intended to help product developers, farmers and processors to produce pulse-derived ingredients with flavors suited to specific applications.
Major pea protein supplier Roquette provides flavor masking solutions for its ingredients tailored for individual customers' products. It says 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.
There is interest from a wide range of categories, but the popularity of pea protein has grown particularly in applications where a pea-like flavor is less of an issue. Although pea-flavoured yogurt may sound unappealing, pea protein is becoming more widely used in the meat alternative sector, including in Beyond Meat's plant protein-based Beyond Burgers, which have proved popular with vegetarians and meat-eaters.