Roquette on pea protein: ‘In five years’ time the off-taste issue will be completely resolved.’


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'For seven decades Roquette did carbohydrate engineering and science – and for the last 10 years we do more and more protein science.' ©iStock
'For seven decades Roquette did carbohydrate engineering and science – and for the last 10 years we do more and more protein science.' ©iStock

Related tags Pea protein Nutrition

French player Roquette is a decade into protein – and its commitment is building having just announced a major pea-focused investment in North America. At Health Ingredients Europe (HiE) the firm told us of work it believes will transform the sector.

There remain some taste issues with pea protein. What developments are occurring in this area?

Xavier Lescieux, business unit manager: “We have not finished all our work on taste. When this issue will be fixed it will be an even greater success. The problem will be fixed. I am convinced – it is just a matter of time, of adapting our process.”

“We have already improved things a lot. If you compare pea protein five years ago and now – there is a strong improvement. We are on a good track. We have improved our processes to better manage the pea components responsible for taste. It’s really technical expertise.”

“But taste is not the only challenge – we are a victim of our own success and so availability is another challenge. We are actively working on both challenges – in-house and with partners. The flavour industry has a role to play – we are working with them. Even dairy protein companies – we have started some collaborations with them.”

“I believe that in five years’ time the off-taste issue will be completely resolved.”

Do you collaborate much with other plant protein players?

Emily Delommez, global business units marketing communications team leader: “It is possible plant protein players could work closer together to work on the issue. Every effort to improve the understanding and image of plant proteins like pea is welcome and we support them.”

How much does the public know about pea protein and its satiety and other benefits?

ED: “There is a lack of public education about pea protein. Consumers don’t know much about pea protein and so there is a big big need to educate people.”

Delommez (centre) & Lescieux (left) in Roquette's tasting kitchen at HiE. ©SRStarling

XL: “It’s still relatively new – look at an exhibition like this – now everybody is talking about vegetable protein. Now our customers need to communicate with the final consumers. I think they do a good job but it is a long process. I think it is better not to do it too fast. It needs to be done in the right way.”

ED: “Look at America – pea protein is well known now. Europe is growing. It helps that pea is GMO-free.”

What percentage of revenue do you spend on R&D?

ED: “We spend 3% on R&D.”

What about other vegetable protein sources?

XL: “For seven decades Roquette did carbohydrate engineering and science – and for the last 10 years we do more and more protein science. Pea, potato, corn, wheat – there is huge potential.”

“More customers are looking for non-grains like peas and potatoes. Potato has a lot of good attributes; a very good amino acid profile. We are working on the potato. So far our potato is sold for animal nutrition and we are working to add value to the potato.”

ED: “Our philosophy is to give value to different raw materials that are rich in proteins as much as possible.”

How important is sustainability?

millennials, ice cream, happy, Copyright william87
Roquette is not concerned about pea protein being rejected by Millennials. ©iStock

XL: “It is important to promote ingredients that are good for the planet – and good for consumers. We feel really good about that. This is our mission. And this is very important to Millennials. Millennials will be half of population of the world. We need to address their needs. Our beliefs are in alignment.”

What does Brexit mean for the EU and the world of food and nutrition?

XL: "Brexit is not good but the impact is limited so far. I don’t think it will lead to other countries leaving. We need regulation. It is difficult but regulations like health claim laws provide opportunities. We are very proud of the EU health claims we have won. We can compete with Asia and America. There are strengths in those places but also there are strengths in Europe."

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