Protein is a macronutrient that our bodies need in relatively large amounts. It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. It also creates sustained energy and a feeling of fullness.
Protein will be one of the most sought-after nutrients in snack foods and meals. In particular, consumers will desire 'cleaner' forms of protein, such as nuts, seeds, legumes and yogurt. The explosion of high-protein Greek yogurt brands, such as Chobani, in the past two years is an example of this growing trend.
We spoke with Eric Borchardt at Glanbia about what comes next.
FI: When I think of Glanbia, I think protein. And when I think protein, I think sports nutrition. What’s the new game?
EB: Protein mainstreaming continues to grow. Not only in terms of nutritional but also functional.
FI: What do you mean by functional?
EB: In our Optisol line of dairy-based products, we improve Greek yogurt. Optisol 1020 provides a protein source but also the creamy mouthfeel of Greek yogurt.
FI: Greek yogurt is trending. It’s a high-protein product.
EB: Protein also imparts function in food or beverage systems. Glanbia started as a sports nutrition company but we’re moving more into a food and beverage system company, beyond bars to other types of foods.
There are a number of people who want to catch up to Chobani, including private label and large grocery chains. There’s a lot of interest in diving into this market and getting a slice of it. It’s expanding beyond basic Greek yogurt into different levels of proteins. A typical yogurt is maybe 4 or 5 grams of protein. Greek yogurt is 9 to 15 grams.
There’s a space for different types of Greek yogurt. How can we expand on that trend? We’re developing technologies to take advantage of these opportunities. The popularity of Greek yogurt is not rocket science – it’s a food with great portability and gives you a satisfying feeling of fullness. The fullness and fat content delivered by protein gives it a smooth, silky, indulgent experience compared to regular yogurt.
FI: Is there anything special about your protein offerings that are differentiating to Greek yogurt or vs other proteins?
EB: Our whey proteins are not like others. We have unique processes. They’re all different, you can’t just swap them out. Without giving away our secrets, we have unique qualities about our whey protein concentrates that offer incredible benefits, mouthfeel and an indulgent experience.
Other possible hot protein ingredients
Several companies are developing production strategies to keep up with the demand for alternative protein sources. Since Aurora Algae’s protein is grown in seawater and thrives in hot, dry climates, the company is able to leverage arid land that is typically unsuitable for other forms of agriculture. Competitor Renewable Algal Energy uses large fermentation tanks to develop its algae protein ingredient.
Renewable Algal Energy promises an alternative to soy and whey protein isolates. Their newly launched algae protein is said to be a highly concentrated complete protein source with a highly desirable amino acid profile.
Similarly, Aurora Algea claims its A2 algae provides a more complete source of allergy-free protein, grown more efficiently than any other source. The company claims it can produce 40 times more protein per unit area in this matter than soybean producers could. Solazyme-Roquette Nutritionals (SRN), a 50-50 joint venture between Solazyme and Roquette, has introduced an algalin-based flour and protein products under the Almagine brand for use in foods and beverages.
Burcon NutraScience Corp. has developed a technology for an “invisible,” non-GMO field pea protein called Peazzazz, where development talks with undisclosed potential partners. Peazazz is 100% soluble, transparent and has clean flavor characteristics. It is heat stable in low pH beverages as well as a variety of other food and beverage applications.
Over the last seven years, Burcon and ADM have been in talks to allow ADM to license and develop Burcon’s canola protein isolate technology (Puratein and Supertein) for supplements. (It has developed Nutratein for the animal feed market). However, hopes of cementing a deal were buoyed as talks between Burcon and ADM failed. Burcon announced early in 2012 it will seek other partners.
BioExx is currently manufacturing canola proteins on a small scale using a solvent-free aqueous process at its Saskatoon, Canada, plant. It has inked a deal with Hormel Foods to develop a line of sports nutrition products using canola proteins and is looking for additional investors willing to undertake large scale production.
This business outlook is just a fraction of the juicy intel on the current and near-view of the protein world available from the Nutrition Business Journal / Engredea Monograph series edition on protein. Check it out at www.newhope360.com/monographs