The global plant protein market is projected to reach more than US$16.7 billion by 2022, according to Mordor Intelligence.
But Brian Nevin, the senior business development director at Kerry Ingredients (Thailand) told FoodNavigator-Asia, there were plans to expand its plant-based protein, ProDiem outside of pea protein, possibly into soy protein for the Asian market.
“In Europe and North America, we tend to see people moving away from soy protein. However in Asia, soy protein is widely accepted,” he observed.
ProDiem, a combination of pea and rice protein, was developed by Kerry 1.5 years ago to address issues with existing plant proteins.
At Vitafoods Asia in Singapore, the firm’s RD&A director in protein technology, Maurice O'Sullivan said: “There are a number of challenges when it comes to plant protein, the main ones being nutrition and taste.”
He said most plant proteins do not contain essential amino acids that are required by the body.
Moreover, plant-proteins are known for their poor flavour, palatability, and grainy texture.
However, he said ProDiem was a solution to these issues, “It contains 80% protein, and delivers a complete amino acid profile.”
He said the combination of both pea and rice proteins, offered a protein quality equivalent to milk and soy protein.
In terms of taste, O'Sullivan said Kerry utilised a flavour masking technology to mask the off-notes traditionally associated with plant protein.
According to him, ProDiem also has a better texture and can prevent hardening over the shelf-life period.
The company also claims pea protein delivered a smoother mouthfeel in beverage applications.
O'Sullivan added that 52% of protein users chose dairy-free as the most important nutritional factor when purchasing protein products.
He said consumers were also taking up more interest in plant protein to meet nutrition and wellness needs, where 62% of protein users cite sustainability as an important factor when purchasing a product, according to Kerry’s research.
In the same research, more than half of protein users want natural ingredients in their protein products, reflecting growing consumer demand for recognisable and simpler ingredients.