Cleaning up snack foods: Big brand interest in cleaner and healthier options paving path for leaf protein sector

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

We speak to The Leaf Protein Co Co-Founder and CEO Fern Ho in the most recent episode of our F&B Trailblazers podcast.
We speak to The Leaf Protein Co Co-Founder and CEO Fern Ho in the most recent episode of our F&B Trailblazers podcast.

Related tags F&B Trailblazers Podcast Healthier choice Leaf

The interest in cleaner and better-for-you snacks shown by big food and beverage brands, including Mondelez, Nestle and Vitasoy, is paving the way for a new specialised area of plant-based proteins to enter the market, namely the RuBisCo leaf protein.

This is according to The Leaf Protein Co Co-Founder and CEO Fern Ho, who told FoodNavigator-Asia​ in the most recent episode of our F&B Trailblazers podcast that this rising interest from various big brands has served as a major catalyst for the firm’s rapid growth since its inception two years ago in 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things around the world and we’ve definitely seen increased consumer interest in health and better diets, but interestingly enough, we also saw an increase in the consumption of snack foods,”​ Ho told us.

“We are also seeing that a lot of these food companies that do produce snack foods, they have dedicated better-for-you teams that are looking at offering products with maybe less sugar, less salt and contribute in some way to bettering people's diets.

“And here is where the RuBisCo leaf protein shows immense potential as it has various functionalities from binding to gelling to solubility and more and can be a natural clean label additive that give various functions in many of these products.”

The Leaf Protein Co has already signed agreements with various well-known household names across various sectors from snacks to plant-based dairy and plant-based meats, including Mondelez, Nestle, Vitasoy, v2foods, vEEF and many more, all of which are waiting for the firm’s pilot prototypes to attempt incorporation into their products.

“This can help companies to clean up and replace some of the E-numbers in manufactured foods, and that’s one way to use this, but we also have the leaf protein as a form of alternative nutritious ingredient in a protein concentrate which is a light green and has the nutritional benefits that chlorophyll can bring, which would fit into the health food space,”​ Ho added.

“The other very big thing for us is the sustainability aspect and here we have been doing a lot of research on using waste material from the horticultural space.

“So in vegetable production, if you think of vegetables like broccoli or even cauliflower, when we buy it from the supermarkets, mostly you just buy the florets but there’s actually huge amounts of leafy material that comes with that broccoli plant that either today gets thrown back into the ground, or there's tons of it that gets pulled apart in the packing sheds.

“Once the vegetable has been harvested and even before it goes to supermarket after it's cleaned, there are actually still more leaves that are being stripped off – so this is a big source we're looking at [to upcycle this waste].”

The Leaf Protein Co will be establishing its first production facility in Australia in the short term in order to cater to the high demand it is already seeing from various food firms.

Listen to the podcast above to find out more.

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