Food brands get creative with pea protein

Food brands get creative with pea protein

The trendy ingredient is popping up in aisles where you might not expect it.

Pea protein was hyped as the next big thing a few years ago, with forecasts in early 2013 that the market was going to explode any minute. Three years later, is it still a strong trend, or is pea protein on its way out?

In a recent report, Research and Markets issued expectations of 12 percent compounded annual growth for the next five years, projecting that the market would be worth $18.5 million by 2021—and based on what we saw at Natural Products Expo West, that growth is not just manifesting as increased consumption of existing products. Pea protein is also extending its reach into more products and categories.  

While the diet and nutrition category dominates in terms of existing use of pea protein, the fastest growth—reaching triple digit rates—of pea protein isolate in products at Expo West 2015, compared with Expo West 2014, took place in the most traditional grocery aisles including snacks, cookies & candy; cereal & breakfast foods; meat & seafood; gains, pasta & side dishes; and sauces, spices & dressings. Here, we take a quick look at some of the products where pea protein is turning up.

Vegan meat substitutes

Pea protein is a key ingredient used by brands like Beyond Meat, Gardein, StarLite Cuisine—the brand behind gluten-free frozen items like vegetarian taquitos—and even vegan seafood maker Sophie’s Kitchen.

Dairy alternatives

Pea protein isolate is showing up in Daiya’s cheese and yogurt products.


Pea protein makes Hampton Creek Mayo’s ingredients list, albeit as a minor player.


What ingredient can’t be transformed in the snack aisle? Pea protein is finding its way into a variety of chips, from Glenny’s Easy-Peasy protein chips to The Good Bean.

Bottled beverages and milk alternatives

Bolthouse Farms recently introduced a line of protein beverages with pea protein. There’s also straight-up pea milk, from Ripple.

Protein bars, powders and shakes

Of course, pea protein remains a key player for plant protein in the supplements category, from Vega to Orgain to custom-ordered energy bars from YouBar. Even Bob’s Red Mill has gotten in on the pea protein game.

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