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Environmental and health concerns boost pea protein popularity

By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 23-Jul-2010

Related topics: Proteins, non-dairy, Market Trends

Pea protein is gaining in popularity, with new product launches containing the ingredient up 21 per cent in 2009 over the previous year, according to data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database.

Belgium-based pea protein supplier Cosucra Groupe Warcoing, which markets its pea protein ingredients under the Pisane brand, attributes this surge in popularity to the convergence of a number of factors, including increased interest in vegetarian protein sources, rising awareness of food sensitivities, and a desire among many European consumers to avoid genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

There were nearly 160 product launches containing pea protein in 2009, according to Mintel figures, reflecting a general upward trend in use of the ingredient over the past decade. In 2000, fewer than 10 products were launched containing pea protein.

“Latest market analysis reveal that consumers are intensifying their focus on food sourcing, driven by fears, food sensitivities and environmental concerns, on top of aiming at healthier diets,” the company said. “…Pea protein is one of the few vegetable protein sources without allergy, labelling or GM issues... It’s the protein answer to main diet restrictions: non dairy, non gluten, non meat, non soy.”

Pea protein isolates are used in a number of different applications, including as an alternative to dairy protein isolates in sports nutrition and weight management products; to bind fat and water in meat, fish, processed foods, soups and sauces; for protein enrichment of baked goods, cereals and snacks; and in place of animal proteins in nutritional products.

And earlier this year, scientists from the University of Burgundy reported that using a combination of pectin and pea protein as emulsifiers increased the stability of the powder when the emulsion was dried – an advancement that could lead to enhanced shelf life for processed foods.

Peas are used in a wide range of applications for the food and beverage industry, as they are broken down to take advantage of its component parts, particularly starch, protein and fibre.