“The first topic under the microscope is the protein transition-the growing move away from animal proteins to alternative sources. Floris explores this theme in conversation with Fred van de Velde.
What protein options are there for plant-based foods?
Alongside the traditional animal-based sources – meat, eggs, milk- we now have many different plant-based alternatives including legumes like soybeans, peas and chickpeas, as well as maize, potatoes and oilseeds. More options like fava beans and green leaves to microalgae and proteins from single-celled organisms produced by fermentation.
How do I choose the best option for a new food product?
Each protein source has its pros and cons. There are proteins that consumers already know (milk substitutes, oats, almonds, coconut or soy). There are environmental factors such as land, water and energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions (peas, fava, rapeseed). There are also the nutritionist’s favorites that deliver as close as possible to a full complement of essential amino acids without causing allergy issues (legume and cereal).
Choosing a protein comes down to finding the right balance.
The right balance will depend on factors such as the type of product you are making and your brand image.
Once you have decided your marketing position, your protein choice follows
You will need to consider the technical aspects of proteins that fit your marketing decisions, if they can deliver the desired taste, texture and appearance.
How does that all work in practice?
The sheer number of different suppliers and variants make screening the options costly and time consuming. Moreover, most legume-based proteins bring unwanted beany taste to end product. Rapeseed has a dark color that is not appropriate for cream cheese. Pulse plus cereal can lead to grittiness at high protein concentrations as well as beany and other off flavors.
Does a plant-based cream cheese always have to be a compromise?
Not at all. There are ways you can improve the technical characteristics of your product. One is to combine different protein types in one product. Another option is fermentation, which can improve the flavor and texture of a product without adding extra “chemicals” to your ingredient list.
In short, protein choices are typically driven by marketing considerations around the type of product and your brand rather than purely technical characteristics. But if necessary, functionality, taste and texture can all be improved using carefully considered fermentation.”