Consumer Market Opportunities in Protein

Posted on:December 13, 2016

December 9, 2016Global Food Forums, Inc.The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients, Amco Proteins, Givaudan, Orochem Technologies, RiceBran Technologies and Synergy.

Now in its fourth year, Global Food Forums, Inc.’s Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar has come into its own as a reliably successful event. Firmly entrenched as North America’s largest conference dedicated to the protein ingredient market and technologies, the event broke previous attendance records. Held May 3-4, 2016, in Oak Brook, Ill., USA, the 253 registrants once again had the option of attending the May 3rd Pre-conference and/or May 4th Technology Program: Formulating with Proteins. 


U.S. consumers are reading labels more carefully and are concerned about GMOs, antibiotics and safety/contamination. That said, meat isn’t going away. [For a larger PDF version of chart, click on image.]

Consumer trends in protein have become a bit polarized. On the one hand, there are drivers pointing to alternative plant proteins as having huge growth potential—what with more interest in vegan and vegetarian diets, greater affordability, and heightened awareness of clean label and sustainability factors in meat production.

“At the same time, there’s also this big, beefy burger trend,” countered David Sprinkle, MBA, Research Director, Packaged Facts, who pointed to brisket and pulled-pork sandwiches, meat jerky, chocolate- covered bacon and pet food sectors that are “taking meat to its most extreme and primal”—and are doing quite well.

There is increased demand for dietary proteins, in general, he reported in his 2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar presentation titled “Consumer Market Opportunities in Protein.” Data compiled by Packaged Facts from Fall 2015 Simmons NCS, Experian Marketing Services, found the share of U.S. adults specifically purchasing high-protein foods in relation to watching their diet has increased steadily, from 11.9% in 2012 to 14.9% in 2015.

If there was an even longer trend line, “I think it would show more growth, as protein has entered the spotlight for weight management and weight control. It’s one of the drivers creating opportunities in this market,” he said.

When Packaged Facts analyzed the demographic information on who was most likely to purchase protein products, a few indicators rose to the top: those with college degrees; who live in condos or co-ops; have household incomes over $100K; or are under age 35. Millennials are statistically more likely to seek protein and are more often cutting back on meat consumption to seek out vegetarian alternatives.

“Millennials are setting the tone and trends in the marketplace,” Sprinkle said. “They’re very conscious of their protein options and choices—and the implication of those choices.”

Americans’ attitudes toward meat proteins are complicated, Sprinkle said, referring to their data. “In terms of America’s love affair with meat, you can see it starting to crack at the edges, but it’s certainly not going away. Meat hasn’t been pushed off center plate; it’s just being critiqued and reconsidered, to a degree.”

Emblematic of the continued demand for traditional, even retro, proteins are the top gainers as seen in menu penetration, when it comes to sandwich proteins. Datassential MenuTrends shows egg (often in the form of egg white) is among the highest gainers in this arena, along with pork and sausage, each with more than 5% growth in sandwich menu penetration over the past decade. Plant proteins, meanwhile, haven’t yet gained robust presence on menus, with less than 10% including menu items with lentils, edamame, chickpeas, flax, chia or pumpkin seeds.

Many categories are generating new products making high-protein claims—frozen yogurt, ice cream, smoothies, dairy/soy drinks, cereals and soups among them—as individual companies increasingly morph to take advantage of the heightened demand for protein of all types. Sprinkle pointed to Muscle Milk moving from sports products to the dairy beverage aisle, and Quest spreading from protein powder into indulgent bars.

Even straightforward products take news twists and turns to hook the protein-seeking consumer, such as Hummus Plus’s addition of chicken to become more center plate than on-the-go snack, and peanut butters expanding into more dessert-like flavors. “Everyone is ending up competing with each other for the protein dollar,” he said.

Gender has long been one of the cards to play in differentiating protein products, but even those boundaries blur with the rising tide of protein demand across demographic groups. Powerful Yogurt, with its masculine coloring, bull logo and macho marketing, has moved into indulgent flavors and even pink-colored yogurt cups for breast cancer awareness. While this could create dissonance and brand identity issues, Sprinkle pointed to statistics showing men and women have almost
identical responses when it comes to what’s most important in their food choices. The greatest difference between the two sexes comes in the 50+ age group, while Millennials cut that already small difference in half.

“So what does make sense in the future, as it relates to differentiation among protein products?” Sprinkle asked.

He pointed to opportunities such as clean label, locally made/ sourced, and international or exotic flavors. Meat substitutes are starting to make waves, as well, Sprinkle added, especially in overseas markets. “As with dairy alternatives, such as almond, coconut and other plant milks, that have established themselves in their own right and are not simply substitutes, so it will be with meat substitutes.”

For more information on Packaged Facts’ report, “Food Formulation and Ingredient Trends: Plant Proteins” (February 2016), see

“Consumer Market Opportunities in Protein,” David Sprinkle, MBA, Research Director, Packaged Facts,

Unlocking the Potential of Alternative Proteins for Use in New Applications

Posted on:

December 29, 2016Global Food Forums, Inc.The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients, Amco Proteins, Givaudan, Orochem Technologies, RiceBran Technologies and Synergy.


A few years back, NIZO analyzed the solubility of a number of commercially available proteins at pHs 4, 6.8 and 8 and found they were low. It determined that efforts to improve protein solubility would be a worthwhile goal. [For larger PDF of chart, click on image.]

In order to meet world demand for protein, food manufacturers need flexibility in choosing protein ingredients, including those from plant proteins. Factors to consider when selecting a plant protein include nutritional quality, functional attributes and sensory properties.

While some protein sources are “well-established” and have been consumed for generations, new ones are also emerging, noted Laurice Pouvreau, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, NIZO food research, in her 2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar titled “Unlocking the Potential of Alternative Proteins for Use in New Applications.”

What is established and what is relatively new to consumers and food manufacturers varies by world regions. For example, Europeans are more familiar than those in the U.S. and Canada with potato and lupin proteins, while the reverse is true with protein from rice and rapeseed (canola).

Through advances in ingredient technology, new sources of protein ingredients will come from efforts to extract proteins from a broad range of pulses, such as chickpeas, fava beans (broad beans), beans and lentils, and from by-products of oilseeds. One example is the high-in-protein sunflower cake that is left over when oil is extracted from sunflower seed.

Pouvreau added that there has been much research on the extraction of protein from green leaves, duckweed/Asian watermeal (from the genus Wolffia) and microalgae. [NOTE: Some of these are already commercially available and were presented at this event’s Protein Sampling Station.]

However, “Plant proteins can be deficient in essential amino acids; so it is necessary to mix proteins in appropriate ratios to deliver the target amino acid profile. Protein blends allow novel source proteins to compete with animal proteins in nutritional quality,” said Pouvreau. Understanding protein blends also allows for texture customization and cost optimization. Research at NIZO has created blends of sodium caseinate with soy or pea protein that yield stable emulsions.

Protein digestibility is also important. There are two primary methods for measuring protein quality: PDCAAS and DIAAS. Both require digestibility testing in animals, which can be expensive. The industry is researching analytical methods that avoid these challenges. For example, NIZO has been working on a new technology, SIMPHYD (SIMulation of PHYsiological Digestion) that mimics in vitro digestion in the mouth, stomach and duodenum.

Solubility is a key property of protein ingredients and impacts a wide range of food and beverage applications. Plant proteins exhibit great variation in solubility, and that solubility is affected by pH. (See chart “Plant Protein Solubility.”)

NIZO has worked on protein processing, such as a mild fractionation process, in order to optimize functional properties. Factors impacting solubility include crop composition, downstream processing and storage conditions, among others. Solubility, in turn, impacts functionalities—such as color, digestibility, emulsification,
heat stability, flavor, viscosity and gelling properties.

One important functional property is foaming. Traditional commercial pea protein foams are grainy with an undesirable mouthfeel, but work at NIZO produced pea proteins that maintained 95% solubility and which formed fine, stable foams.

There has been much interest in RuBisCO, which, as the main protein in green plants, is the most abundant protein in the world. A traditional plant protein extraction yields a product that is dark green and highly insoluble. NIZO has developed a mild extraction method, combined with a decoloration method, that yields a plant protein with 70-90% protein, off-white color and high functionality.

Pouvreau noted that it is better to optimize an ingredient’s flavor during its processing than to try to mask or modify flavor in the final product. Plant proteins often have flavors that are described as beany, cardboard, bitter or astringent. Volatile organic compounds, generated by the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, also generate off-flavors. Here, too, NIZO has worked on modifying the extraction process to create a pea protein low in oxidation flavors and has used fermentation by co-starter cultures to reduce beany off-flavor.

Astringency, which is defined as a dry, puckering mouthfeel, is a result of the interaction of proteins or polyphenols with saliva and is directly related to the molecular properties of the protein, rather than the extraction method. One area of research aiming to minimize astringent mouthfeel involves controlling the interaction of proteins and saliva components.

These exciting new technologies will allow plant proteins to supplement and compete with animal proteins to serve a hungry planet, concluded Pouvreau.

“Unlocking the Potential of Alternative Proteins for Use in New Applications,” Dr. Laurice Pouvreau, Senior Scientist, NIZO food research BV, +31 318 659 425,

An Industry Insight into Replacing Nitrites and Phosphates in Processed Meats

Posted on:December 5, 2016

December 5, 2016–Global Food Forums, Inc.
The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Clean Label Conference Summary,”
sponsored by Givaudan, RiceBran Technologies, TIC Gums, Blue Pacific Flavors, World Technology Ingredients, Inc. and IOI Loders Croklaan.


Most clean label alternatives for processed meats come from fruit and vegetable sources. [For larger PDF of chart, click on image]

Processed meats are a food category where easily recognizable, clean label ingredients can be used to achieve the same technical functionality of manufactured ingredients. However, these ingredients come with their own flavor and technical challenges.

“The primary ingredients currently used to develop clean label processed meats include vegetable juice powders, to replace nitrates/ nitrites as curing agents; and acerola cherry powder to replace sodium erythorbate as a cure accelerator. Plum-based products (fresh and dried concentrates, powders and fibers) are effective at replacing phosphates for moisture retention,” said Webb Girard, MSc, a Culinologist with CuliNex, Seattle.

The nitrates in vegetable juice powder are converted to nitrites via lactic acid bacteria to create curing agents. Because they use vegetable ingredients, they have a unique flavor profile, all while promoting pink color and firming the texture. They also act as a preservative and antioxidant.

For clean label products, manufacturers can use vegetable sources of nitrites, primarily celery juice. Nitrites, both naturally and synthetically derived, are very effective at recommended usage levels but can be toxic at high levels, so control of usage levels is very important, advised Girard.

Technology has advanced from the use of liquid vegetable juice to vegetable juice powder as a nitrite source. The powdered version is much easier to use and has minimal vegetal flavor. The meat processor must still carefully control pH and might need to balance the celery flavor with other seasonings. Vegetable juice powder costs some $26/lb vs. 6 cents/lb for conventional nitrates. Labeling implications are outlined in 9CFR 317.17 and 9CFR 391.2. Label the product as uncured (i.e., “uncured boneless ham”). The label must also declare, “No nitrates or nitrites added except for the naturally occurring nitrates in sea salt and celery powder. Not preserved. Keep refrigerated below 40°F at all times.”

There are no regulations on the amount of vegetable juice powder to be added, and usage levels are dictated by the amount needed to achieve desired effects and flavor balance. There is a wide variety of effectiveness and a lack of product control on some clean label products in the marketplace, according to Gerard.

Use USDA guidelines for nitrite levels to determine optimal levels of natural nitrites. A level of 40ppm is the minimum needed for color fixing, and color will fade after 45 days. A level of 100ppm is the minimum needed for stable color. Cherry powder from the acerola cherry can be used to replace sodium erythorbate as a cure accelerator through pH reduction and is needed in rapid-process products, such as hot dogs and bacon. It also helps improve flavor stability, color and shelflife.
The type of meat application will determine if there is a need for a curing accelerator.

Phosphates alter the pH and increase the water-holding capacity of meats. Phosphate replacers can be expensive and can impact the flavor and texture of the finished product.

One option is to use plum-based products for phosphate replacement. Plum products attract and hold moisture in open-muscle fibers and commuted products. Plum products have minimal flavor impact; may enhance flavor; and can be cost-neutral when used to replace phosphates. They are high in antioxidants and suppress warmed-over flavors. Though they have a regulatory limit when used as a binder, there is no limit on usage as a flavor enhancer. They are allergen-free and can allow for salt and spice reduction. Depending on what form of plum is used, they are typically labeled as “fresh plum concentrate” or “dried plum purée.”

Whole foods ingredients are effective in replacing synthetic ingredients in processed meats. However, meat manufacturers will need to optimize formulas for flavor, cost and functionality.

“An Industry Insight into Replacing Nitrites and Phosphates in Processed Meats,” Webb Girard, MSc, Culinologist, Culinex, LLC,, 206-719-0485

Clean Labeling: The Chemistry and Application of Natural Flavorings

Posted on:November 1, 2016

November 1, 2016–Global Food Forums, Inc.
The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Clean Label Conference Summary,”
sponsored by Givaudan, RiceBran Technologies, TIC Gums, Blue Pacific Flavors, World Technology Ingredients, Inc. and IOI Loders Croklaan.


Flavor substances allowed in the U.S. are essentially the same as in the EU, but the EU is a little more controlled, and labeling a little more restrictive. Only certain processing techniques are allowed in the EU to generate flavors. In the U.S., the flavor regulations 21CFR 101.22 have been unchanged for decades. [Click on chart image for larger PDF version.]

“As a flavor scientist for decades, clean labeling is not typically my main focus,” opened Keith Cadwallader, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, he advised, “Natural flavoring or substances may not always be considered clean, and when cleaning up labels, there may be some challenges with flavoring.”

Flavor is complicated, as it involves not only taste and smell but also cultural aspects. “Likings develop over time, and there is an emotional aspect. As we can all relate, aromas go directly to the brain where memories pop up. Flavor is the main determinant of why we eat certain things and whether we will purchase again,” explained Cadwallader.

The experience of flavor is integrated with overall product expectation, and it includes color and texture. Several studies show clear flavor linkages to a color, like red with cherry or strawberry, or green with lime.

Experts understand that naturals often give lower flavor intensity than artificial flavors, so additional natural substances may be needed to boost flavor intensity. Additionally, with natural source material, variation can be expected. Supplies can also be uncertain (i.e., if produced in a geopolitically unstable part of the world).

Natural flavors often contain non-flavor constituents that are not stable and can lead to off-flavors, like limonene in citrus, which tends to oxidize very easily.

There are times when a liquid might work better than a dry flavor. A good example is in functional products with many nutritional ingredients that need to be masked.

In nutrition bars, flavors are pretty stable due to low water activity. Encapsulates work well, as flavor can be released during consumption. The shelflife of encapsulates is also good, so use in bars is generally reasonable. Use of certain encapsulated functional ingredients also helps, especially minerals or others that tend to promote oxidation.

Beverages are different due to their high moisture level, which can create a spoilage concern. Viscosity, consistency and mouthfeel need to be consistent with flavors. A thick beverage, for example, needs an indulgent flavor like chocolate or cream; citrus, however, does not work well in most thick, creamy beverages. Legislative restrictions and differing regulations between countries can also be a challenge.

“Natural and clean label do not necessarily mean the same thing, but here are some considerations,” Cadwallader added. Plant-based flavorings are probably safe to consider for clean label. “Oleoresins, tinctures and alcohol extracts of plant materials (like vanilla extract) have been around for centuries, so they are pretty easy to call ‘clean’” he stated.

Similarly, natural bouillons, concentrated dried stock or aqueous extracts are also likely to be understood by consumers. Process flavors, created by enzymatic modification or thermal processing, are more borderline and may be less likely to fit under the “clean label” umbrella. Considered not so clean by some, although completely natural, are HVPs or yeast extracts.

A natural HVP (i.e., soy sauce) has a good flavor. However, certain consumers may understand it contains MSG and be less accepting of it, even though it is natural. Liquid smoke is also considered natural and has been popular since the 1970s. But, looking at how it is made, one may not consider it so natural or appropriate for clean labels.

Often, GMO technology is used to increase yield and production of essential oils in source materials. With all these considerations, it can be best to involve a flavor house, as they will consider all aspects of the products and have R&D to understand processing and environment. The flavor needs to be considered from processing all the way through storage. Again, natural flavors are not necessarily clean, Cadwallader advised.

“Clean Labeling: The Chemistry and Application of Natural Flavorings,” Keith Cadwallader, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,, 217-333-5803


Clean Label: Effective Marketing and Avoiding Regulatory Potholes

Posted on:October 14, 2016

stienborn-blog-imageOctober 14, 2016–Global Food Forums, Inc.
The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Clean Label Conference Summary,”
sponsored by Givaudan, RiceBran Technologies, TIC Gums, Blue Pacific Flavors, World Technology Ingredients, Inc. and IOI Loders Croklaan.

Steven Steinborn, J.D., Partner, Hogan Lovells, US LLP, had one main goal in his talk: to help manufacturers reconcile dynamics in the marketplace with a legal framework for clean labels.

“A clean label means a simplified label, with fewer ingredients, nothing artificial and transparency to consumers,” he began. “Keep in mind that what is meant on the label is formed by the consumer. Their expectations are very important from a legal perspective, as labels cannot be misleading on the basis of consumer understanding.”

When cleaning up labels, it’s important to remember some ingredient names are specified by a Standard of Identity in the federal regulations. If an ingredient is covered by a Standard of Identity, it must be named accordingly. If no standard exists, then an established common or usual name is to be used. “So, if something has been named for decades, it cannot generally be changed now,” Steinborn cautioned.

If no common name exists, then a new name can be chosen, but it must be appropriately descriptive. In naming an ingredient, it is advisable to use the basic nature of the food and to work to freely inform consumers. The ingredient statement cannot include adjectives, brand names or marketing terms—only the facts. Exemptions are also considerations. Incidental additives and processing aids are not required to be declared. But it is a narrow category—so be careful.

Steinborn advised: “Think strategically; while regulations are prescriptive, they do have some flexibility.” For example, USDA approves all food labels, and if USDA signs off on a new ingredient name, the company is then in a much stronger position.

“‘Made with’ claims deserve consideration and can be very good strategically. These claims allow a company to zero-in on specific ingredients. It can be much easier to substantiate an ingredient in the formula than [to substantiate] the whole product. But there must be a meaningful amount of the ingredient present. Claiming ‘2g of whole grain,’ for example, is not that much. Be thoughtful, as these ‘amount claims’ can be useful but can also be a source of trouble,” he offered.

An explosion in lawsuits has caused companies to be risk-averse. The cost of defending and damage to brand reputation is high, even if the lawsuit is dismissed. “Litigation should not prevent good companies from making good claims,” Steinborn noted.

The key is to know what attracts litigation. “Natural” claims, which are ill-defined, can get a company into trouble. Organic, on the other hand, is subject to a statutory definition and a whole regulatory scheme.

Another area of caution is technical mislabeling, where the wrong name is used on a label. Currently, this is a subject of a number of lawsuits. “Evaporated cane juice,” for example, is not an appropriate name for “sugar.”

GMO labeling has become quite popular and, for most processors, the Vermont law will become the federal standard, because companies cannot segregate Vermont products. At the time of this conference, Congress tried but could not vote to preempt the Vermont law. “Imagine, the outlook for the food industry must be pretty bleak for it to go to Congress for help, as Congress is typically so helpful,” he jested.

In closing, Steinborn provided some tips for clean labeling. Understand FDA regulations and apply them creatively but sensibly. Recognize the importance of technology; a company with strong R&D has a competitive advantage.

Do not try to fix a clean label problem through labeling; rather, consider changing the formula and ingredients. Leverage suppliers’ expertise but also conduct independent evaluations. Articulate clear benefits (i.e., “healthier eating” is too generic)—being more specific is less risky. Ingredient-focused claims are the wave of the future, as they are easier to communicate and to substantiate.

Lastly, think about leveraging third-party certifiers; they are a big deal now and, from a litigation-risk perspective, may offer protection. Government would be less likely to go after a company, if the certifying body is also included in the lawsuit.

“Clean Label: Effective Marketing and Avoiding Regulatory Potholes,” Steven Steinborn J.D., Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP,

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