“Consumers keep learning more and more [about] where their food comes from …. And in the age of the handheld computer, that information is at their fingertips. So, really having a sustainable system all the way around” and “doing things that are better for the earth … are things consumers want,” Tyler Lorenzen, president of pea-based ingredient supplier Puris, told FoodNavigator-USA.
In response, Lorenzen said, Puris is focused on growing peas as a crop that gives back to the earth more than it takes and producing it in a way that reduces the negative impact on the environment.
“When you think about sustainability, or regenerative … we like to talk about peas. Peas are really cool because they give more than they take” in that “peas are used as a rotational crop – so they are carbon sequestering and add nitrogen to the soil. This means you reduce the amount of fertilizer you need to add to your next crop,” Lorenzen said.
“We grow peas as a cover crop, as well. So they are grown before another commodity that would be grown after that. So, it is really important for organic farming” and making the soil better than when we found it, he added.
Puris also limits the environmental impact associated with growing, processing and shipping its pea-based ingredients by growing its peas in the US – reducing the need for shipping across international borders for processing, Lorenzen said.
Using the whole pea
To further its mission of sustainability, the brand is focusing on how to maximize all elements of the peas it processes.
For the most part, peas are coveted for their plant-based protein, but the fiber and starch also can be used to meet growing consumer demand for clean-label ingredients and high-fiber foods, Lorenzen noted.
“We call it the whole pea story. Everyone wants pea protein and Puris is protein. And that is great. That is something that is very exciting to us because that market pull helps create this opportunity. But there is a lot more that comes from the pea than just the protein. There is the pea starch, there is the fiber, there is all of this goodness and it is all wholesome nutrition,” he said.
To showcase how other components of the pea can be used, at the IFT Summit, Puris demoed pea starch as a key ingredient in a decadent, creamy plant-based yogurt – which is a category in need of innovation, Lorenzen said.
“I would challenge you to walk through your local grocery store and you may see a bunch of consumers buying nondairy milks, but yet they still have dairy yogurt in their shopping cart. Why is that? Well, there is a compromise in the marketplace on what nondairy yogurt tastes like. So, what we want to do is can we add the nutritional attributes of high protein … and then not have it full of gums and other things like that, which may compromise the label and ingredient deck,” he said.
“So, instead of using gums, we use pea starch. So, super clean label, and we actually cultured it so it is fully cultured,” resulting in a prototype that tastes and feels like dairy, he said.
He also sees a lot of potential for pea fiber, which meets the FDA’s new definition of needing to be intrinsic and intact.
“Both internal pea fiber and external pea fiber will be recognized as dietary fiber, so there is a lot of growth there and, you know, what we can create,” he said.
Ultimately, he added, “we are trying to create a better future,” by focusing on sustainability and using all elements of the pea to reduce waste without sacrificing flavor or taste.