Pea protein interest spiking in run-up to trade show

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

PURIS has been breeding pea varieties for better flavor and other endpoints for more than two decades.  PURIS photo
PURIS has been breeding pea varieties for better flavor and other endpoints for more than two decades. PURIS photo

Related tags Protein plant-based Pea protein

Pea is among the leading plant based protein alternatives. Interest in the ingredient and product launches are spiking in the run-up to the Expo West trade show.

According to some estimates​, the worldwide market for pea protein is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 11.8% over the next five years, and is projected to reach $1.16 billion by 2024, up from about $590 million in 2019.

Ingredion gets into the game

Ingredient suppliers are moving rapidly to supply this market.  In December, Ingredion launched its first protein isolate derived from peas​. Called VITESSENSE Pulse 1803, the 80% protein ingredient is said to be low in ‘raw and green’ flavor notes and is designed to emulsify easily. 

“The launch of VITESSENE Pulse 1803 underlines our commitment to accelerating plant based protein production globally,” ​said Severine Bensa, Ingredion’s regional growth platform leader for the EMEA market.

Application of plasma treatment to peas

Another product launch announced in the runup to the show is a pea protein offering from Plasma Nutrition. The company, founded in 2015, uses a proprietary technology that treats protein molecules with atmospheric plasma​, which is said to increase the surface area of the particles in an effort to improve stability and solubility and, ultimately, absorption. The company says it has data showing improved uptake with its first product, called ioWhey Protein. 

 The company has now launched ioPea Protein (‘io’ stands for ‘Ingredient Optimized’).  Applying its technology to this plant based source yields a protein that the company claims “is nearly 3 times as bioavailable as a standard pea protein and comparable to the bioavailability of whey protein.”

New barista blends and smarter seeds

On the finished goods side Swedish company Sproud announced yesterday that in April it will launch a line of pea protein milk drinks in the US market that will compete with other dairy alternatives such as oat, almond and others. The brand is aiming in particular at coffee bars with a ‘barista blend.’ The brand will be distributed in the US market by Ethical Brands Inc.

There has been a lot of innovation and investment on the raw material side, too. Last week Israeli company Equinom announced $10 million in new financing led by BASF and including Roquette ​to help ramp up its pea breeding operation (Roquette has had its Nutralys line of pea proteins on the market for more than a decade now).  Equinom says its business model, which incorporates artificial intelligence, “Shapes the future of plant protein by designing smarter seeds via fast-track, technology-driven breeding methodology that harnesses natural genetic variation in plants.”

The company is said to be aiming at higher protein and oil levels with its so-called ‘smart seeds.’

PURIS top of heap in terms of market history

Companies like Equinom, Ingredion and others will have a long way to go to match the head start enjoyed longtime player PURIS. The company has been breeding pea varieties for better taste and other endpoints for at least two decades.  The strength of the company’s IP portfolio has attracted a minority investment from food ingredients giant Cargill.

PURIS Chief Marketing Officer Jon Getzinger said that pea protein has some inherent advantages over other plant-based forms which accounts for the recent spike in interest.

“Peas are not only sustainable, but regenerative related to soil health, and they are not a major allergen.  Pea protein is accepted by consumers on the label and it’s cost effective,” ​he said.

Getzinger said PURIS has an additional advantage in this era of emphasis on traceability and related country-of-origin concerns. 

“We have US sourcing from seed to product, and PURIS is currently the only one who can say this,”​ he said. 

“PURIS is the only company with a USA vertical supply chain from its own peas to over 500 farmers in its grower network to manufacturing in the USA.  Unlike most others, we are completely transparent as to the journey our peas take from seed-to-plate. We’ve never taken our peas overseas to be processed. We feel that owning every step of the supply chain here in the US is a key part in not only providing better tasting products, but assuring makers and eaters that products from PURIS don’t carry the risk inherent in an external supply chain,”​ he added.

Pushing the organic message

PURIS has been pushing its organic offerings and helps farmers make the transition to organic production.  The five year transition period in this process from conventional agriculture to organic certification is a major bottleneck in that supply chain.

“You’ll find us in the organic section at ExpoWest.  We chose that area as we’re firm believers in the benefits that organic farming brings to people and our planet, especially with peas that are inherently regenerative.  At PURIS we’re committed to providing our growers here in the USA with the tools and seed they need to be successful, and providing makers with the best tasting organic ingredients,” ​Getzinger said.

At the show

On the show floor in Anaheim, PURIS’ products can be seen at Booth 2400.​  Ingredion is at Booth 571​ and Ethical Brands can be found at Booth 5162.

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