Plant Pro­teins

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Front Page - By Dr. Satya­narayana

The de­mand for pro­teins for food and feed, is open­ing up op­por­tu­ni­ties for play­ers

The de­mand for pro­teins in In­dia, for food and feed, is ex­pected to in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly in the next 5-10 years and there is great op­por­tu­nity for the local in­dus­try to foray into plant pro­teins in­gre­di­ents busi­ness as well as plant pro­tein based food prod­ucts. See­ing the at­trac­tive­ness, quite a few In­dian play­ers from al­lied in­dus­try seg­ments are en­ter­ing into the plant pro­teins cat­e­gory.

The num­ber of food prod­ucts and di­ets launched glob­ally with higher pro­tein con­tent has in­creased in re­cent years. A high level of pro­tein was gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with cat­e­gories like sports nu­tri­tion, weight man­age­ment, in­fant nu­tri­tion, etc. How­ever, in the past few years, pro­teins have be­come main­stream food in­gre­di­ents and are be­ing in­creas­ingly used in other cat­e­gories like en­ergy bars, meal re­place­ments, healthy snacks, yo­gurt, smooth­ies etc.

Some of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of pro­tein that de­ter­mine its ap­pli­ca­tions in var­i­ous prod­ucts are: • Nu­tri­tion: Amino acid pro­file, con­tain­ing all es­sen­tial amino acids, ab­sorp­tion, di­ges­tion etc.

• Func­tion­al­ity: sol­u­bil­ity, sta­bil­ity, vis­cos­ity, foam­ing, trans­parency, be­hav­ior in acidic bev­er­ages, tex­ture, mois­ture re­ten­tion etc.

• Clean taste: Neu­tral fla­vor, aroma

• Clean La­bel: Non-al­ler­gen, NON-GMO

• Pro­cess­ing: Dam­age to pro­teins dur­ing pro­cess­ing ad­versely im­pacts nu­tri­tional and func­tional prop­er­ties.

• Price: Cost of pro­duc­tion/use Tra­di­tion­ally, an­i­mal sourced pro­teins and soy pro­tein, con­sid­ered com­plete pro­teins, were used in var­i­ous food ap­pli­ca­tions. Ris­ing cost of an­i­mal de­rived pro­teins, fear of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance with ex­ces­sive

use of an­tibi­otics in live­stock farm­ing, an­i­mal wel­fare con­cern, and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity con­cerns are driv­ing the food in­dus­try to ex­plore new plant­based pro­teins as an al­ter­na­tive to the es­tab­lished an­i­mal-based pro­teins in the mar­ket. Con­sumer de­mand for ‘clean’ la­bel (al­ler­gen-free, Gmo-free) is driv­ing the in­dus­try to look for al­ter­na­tives to soya pro­tein as well. Plant pro­tein sources are also gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity due to the health ben­e­fits of plant-based di­ets in low­er­ing choles­terol and de­creas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease and di­a­betes; and pro­vid­ing higher fiber than their meat-based coun­ter­parts.

Cer­tain con­sumer groups with diet re­stric­tions such as vegans / veg­e­tar­i­ans had lim­ited choices of pro­tein sources in the past. The ad­vent of novel plant pro­tein iso­lates and al­gal based pro­tein in­gre­di­ents and their in­creas­ing us­age in food prod­ucts has sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased av­enues of pro­tein nu­tri­tion for these cat­e­gory of con­sumers. Glob­ally, the use of plant pro­teins is in­creas­ing rapidly with the growth of meat sub­sti­tute prod­ucts and the in­creased launches of plant-based food & bev­er­age launches. Among plant sources, tra­di­tion­ally pulses/ legume crops were pre­ferred choice as sources of pro­teins con­sid­er­ing the rel­a­tively higher pro­tein con­tent than crops like ce­re­als & mil­lets.

How­ever, now non-tra­di­tional sources like ce­re­als (brown rice & wheat) and oilseeds (canola) are also be­ing tapped for iso­lat­ing pro­teins (Ta­ble. 1). This new trend is driven by the func­tion­al­ity and qual­ity of the iso­lated pro­tein, and not on the pro­tein con­tent per se in these sources. Plant pro­teins, in gen­eral, fall short of pro­vid­ing a com­plete amino acid pro­file. Var­i­ous plant pro­teins can be blended to cre­ate a com­plete amino acid pro­file and to im­prove taste. For Ex­am­ple, AIDP’S Ad­van­tein is a blend of brown rice and pea pro­tein. Mi­croal­gae is also emerg­ing as an­other source of pro­tein for veg­e­tar­i­ans. Al­gae of­fers the ad­van­tage of high growth rates and shorter batch time, re­sult­ing in more pro­tein per unit area than all other sources. The whole cell al­gal mass or ex­tract can be used as pro­tein source. The Uk-based com­pany Quorn uses My­co­pro­tein, pro­duced from nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring fun­gus through fer­men­ta­tion process, as a pro­tein source in var­i­ous ve­gan prod­ucts.

Though plant pro­teins are be­com­ing pop­u­lar, they still pose some chal­lenges for food man­u­fac­tur­ers in prod­uct ap­pli­ca­tions. Pro­teins from dif­fer­ent sources have dif­fer­ent amino acid pro­files (es­sen­tial amino acids) and di­gestibil­ity, so 1:1 pro­tein re­place­ment is not fea­si­ble for all prod­ucts. Some sup­pli­ers blend var­i­ous pro­tein iso­lates to im­prove nu­tri­tional value or to re­duce costs. How­ever, blend­ing/ ad­di­tion of an­other plant pro­teins may neg­a­tively im­pact the tex­tu­ral prop­er­ties. Some of the plant pro­teins also have off fla­vors/ notes. Use of right tech­nol­ogy across the value chain is key for al­ter­na­tive pro­teins busi­ness, in­clud­ing plant and al­gal sources. Pro­tein pro­duc­tion (crop ge­net­ics to en­hance pro­tein qual­ity and yield), pro­tein ex­trac­tion & pro­cess­ing tech­nolo­gies and ef­fec­tive for­mu­la­tion are crit­i­cal for ex­tend­ing ap­pli­ca­tions of plant pro­teins to var­i­ous food cat­e­gories and thereby in­creas­ing novel plant pro­tein’s vi­a­bil­ity as a nu­tri­tion source. There is also a need for strong ap­pli­ca­tion and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment ef­forts for pro­mot­ing al­gal pro­teins.

In In­dia, higher in­come led diet di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, im­pact of glob­al­iza­tion, in­creas­ing ur­ban­iza­tion and chang­ing life­style of peo­ple is con­tribut­ing to the changes in the food con­sump­tion pat­tern. The de­mand for pro­teins in In­dia, for food and feed, is ex­pected to in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly in the next 5-10 years and there is great op­por­tu­nity for local in­dus­try to foray into plant pro­teins in­gre­di­ents busi­ness as well as plant pro­tein based food prod­ucts. See­ing the at­trac­tive­ness, few In­dian play­ers from al­lied in­dus­try seg­ments (like Syn­thite In­dus­tries), are mak­ing en­try into the plant pro­teins cat­e­gory.

With im­prove­ments in ex­trac­tion, pro­cess­ing tech­nolo­gies and for­mu­la­tions, the chal­lenges of off-fla­vor, sol­u­bil­ity, tex­ture etc. re­lated to the plant based pro­teins are ex­pected to be ad­dressed. This will lead to in­creased in­cor­po­ra­tion of plant pro­teins in var­i­ous food for­mu­la­tions with bet­ter organolep­tic prop­er­ties.

Plant pro­tein sources are also gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity due to the health ben­e­fits of plant-based di­ets in low­er­ing choles­terol and de­creas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease and di­a­betes; and pro­vid­ing higher fiber than their meat-based coun­ter­parts.

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