The past few years have changed how consumers approach their daily eating habits; up to 70% of consumers are willing to pay extra for all-natural, sustainable, and ethical foods. Perhaps the biggest change in recent years is the adoption and integration of plant-based proteins in more CPG snacks, like protein bars, protein bites, and toaster pastries. Consumers are invested in these new alternatives because of the myriad of benefits plant-based proteins offer. As the demand for plant-based proteins continues to gain momentum, many food brands and businesses are looking into incorporating plant-based protein into their products.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top 4 plant proteins that brands can use to make "better-for-you" treats and how to formulate with them.
1. Hemp Protein
Hemp protein is derived from the Cannabis plant and sourced exclusively from it. Although derived from the plant, hemp powder differs from marijuana in the fact that it contains little to no THC. Hemp protein is considered one of the best plant proteins because it contains all the nine essential amino acids that are usually found in animal by-products. Its plant-based nature makes it perfect for a well-rounded diet, especially for vegans, keto, and paleo diets. Not only that but it is also rich in fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and minerals. As such, the market for help protein is growing at a steady pace.
Regular hemp powder has a nutty and earthy taste that works well in protein shakes and smoothies. One of the most popular hemp protein variations is hemp protein isolate. The isolate powder has a white bone color and a neutral flavor, perfect to add to your delicious treats without affecting your original flavor profile. Each 30-gram serving of hemp protein has around 120 calories and 15 grams of protein, making it perfect for your next innovative treat.
2. Pea Protein
Pea protein is a plant-based protein often extracted from yellow peas. Pea proteins are rich in high-quality protein and offer an assortment of health benefits such as muscle growth, weight loss, and heart health. It is rich in iron and works with many specialty diets. Not only does pea protein build muscle mass but it also keeps you full for longer. Pea protein contains roughly 20 proteins for every 100 calories, making it one of the most calorie-efficient proteins in the market for consumers following diets like the paleo or keto diet.
Pea protein has a mellow and neutral taste, making it easy to blend with your innovative treat, as well as a great texture. Unlike some proteins, pea protein is not chalky and is easy to digest. Because of this, the market for pea protein has exponentially increased, already reaching $1.7 billion this year. It is a great alternative to traditional proteins since it's easy to source, does not directly affect flavor, and has continued popularity amongst consumers.
3. Chickpea Protein
As its name implies, chickpea protein is a plant protein derived exclusively from chickpeas, a type of legume. It has been one of the biggest trends of this past year and has been on the rise across the board for both food and diet enthusiasts. Chickpea protein is packed with nutrients and is extremely rich in fiber, proteins, iron, vitamins, and minerals. It contains roughly 19g of protein per every 100g serving. Despite it coming from beans, chickpea protein is odorless with a smooth, neutral taste. It is perfect for most major diets.
Chickpea protein offers both a trendy and healthy alternative to integrate into your snacks. By using chickpea proteins, you can fully back up any health claims while also tapping into an evergrowing market. Although there are many reasons you should add chickpea protein into your products, its undeniable popularity throughout 2022 is what seals the deal.
4. Barley Protein
Barley protein is derived from the cereal grain, barley. It is a good source of nutrients and contains the 4 main essential amino acids: lysine, threonine, methionine, and tryptophan. It contains roughly 12g of protein for every 100g. Although barley protein has a slightly malty flavor compared to other alternatives, it has a major advantage in the form of its high solubility and low viscosity. This means that barley protein can be dissolved in far more types of products without issue, making it a great ingredient for treats like toaster pastries, cookies, and protein balls. Even though barley protein is not as widely used as other types of plant proteins, its market is expected to make a major push in the upcoming years.
The main advantage of barley protein powder is its versatility. Beyond the traditional powder-based snacks barley can also be integrated into milk, coffee, and even tea – an advantage that few plant-based proteins share.
How To Formulate With Plant Proteins
Because of the numerous health benefits and increasing consumer demands for plant proteins, it should come as no surprise that countless brands are hopping onto the plant protein train. When formulating with plant proteins, it is important to avoid taste issues like beany and grassy notes, which can be common if not done properly. This is due to the fact that plant proteins inherently contain grassy, earthy, or malty flavors. Remember: choosing the right flavor profile for your specific protein snack is key.
Navigating these flavor complications can be a complex and challenging process, which is why partnering with the right contract manufacturer is so important when developing products that incorporate plant proteins. The right protein bar co-packer will be able to offer complimentary ingredients that mask the flavor and add sweetness, nuttiness, and toasted flavors to give your products a more pleasing taste. Once you get your plant protein snack formulated correctly, you’ll not only be able to use plant proteins to break into other CPG markets, such as nostalgic snacks, rice crispy treats, protein bars, cereals, and even nut butters, but also stand out from the competition.
Although trends are constantly changing, we predict that plant protein is here to stay. Brands that want to stay relevant in the CPG market need to start making use of plant proteins that work well with a variety of diets and snacks. To bring your food vision to life, look for a co-manufacturer, like YouBar, that has all the certifications, equipment, and experience. The right partner will be able to offer a variety of plant proteins and make the overall process easier. For more information, contact us today.