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Consumers ready for new protein alternatives

Pulse and grains at Turkeys Grand Bazzar
Food technologists consider algae, quinoa and pulses strong alternatives to meat. These proteins can reduce food waste and increase production for a growing population, as well.

Algae is evolving as the next new alternative protein source consumers are anxious to bite into as an ingredient in crackers, snack bars, cereals and breads, according to a July 12 presentation at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago.

Algae, quinoa and pulses are considered by some food technologists to be the best protein sources and strong alternatives to slow meat consumption, reduce food waste and help feed the world’s growing population.

Algae is a new vegan source of protein with a comparable carbon footprint to existing vegan proteins such as rice and soy, according to Beata Klamczynska who leads food application development at Solazyme. It contains 63 percent protein, 15 percent fiber, 11 percent lipids, 4 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent micronutrients and 3 percent moisture, she said, and is easily digested and considered heart healthy. It’s found in the ingredient lists of some protein shakes, crackers or bars, cereals, sauces, dressings and breads.

“Are consumers ready for algae as an ingredient? Yes, they are ready and excited about algae,” Klamczynska said. “The more they learn, the more excited they get. Just a little education eliminates any doubts. There are thousands of algae strains to choose from for a variety of products.”.

Another protein alternative is quinoa (keen-OH-wa), an increasingly popular, centuries-old “poor man’s” crop grown in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia and Peru.

“Quinoa is here to stay,” said Laurie Scanlin, recognizing there are more than 1,400 quinoa products currently on the market. Scanlin holds a U.S. patent for “Quinoa Protein Concentrate, Production, and Functionality" and is co-editor of "Sustainable Protein Sources,” to be published next year. “It’s a nutritious, sustainable food and protein source.”

Pulses, also known as legumes, beans, chickpeas and lentils, are also high in protein, vegetarian, gluten-free, non-allergenic, non-GMO and sustainable, according to Anusha Samaranayaka, scientist at POS Bio-Sciences in Saskatoon, Canada.

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