Demand for plant-based products is being driven by consumers looking for healthier dietary solutions that are also environmentally sustainable. As a result, the plant-based foods sector is expected to see huge growth over the next decade.
In order to take advantage of these market opportunities however, food manufacturers need to fully address functionality, as well as nutrition and sustainability. In other words, companies looking to ‘green’ their supply chains and be part of the protein transition must still be able to deliver products that look and taste great.
Unique plant protein functionalities
Cosun Protein, a new business unit within the Royal Cosun Group, was formed to help manufacturers address this need.
“The idea behind this was to really focus on creating unique plant-based proteins,” explains Cosun Protein sales manager Michiel Pronk. “A big challenge for manufacturers is still taste.”
The company has investigated a number of potential new protein sources, and this year launched its first plant protein product – Tendra. This fava bean-based protein isolate will be formally unveiled at Fi Europe, and demonstrated across a range of products at Cosun Protein’s booth. The product is the result of the company’s proprietary extraction technology and unique purification process.
“We are very excited about this product,” says application manager Margriet van Gurp. “A key frustration among manufacturers looking to tap the plant-based trend has been taste. Another issue has been solubility. If you look at dairy alternative applications on the market, such as milks and yogurts, you often find a gritty texture.”
Tasty plant-based products
Tendra®, say van Gurp, is different because it is taste-neutral and soluble.
“It dissolves really well, creating a smooth and creamy texture,” adds van Gurp.
This makes it ideally suitable as a functional protein ingredient in products such as dairy alternatives, functional drinks, vegan ice cream and dressings, offering a good nutritional profile.
Other potential product applications include cheese alternatives.
“This is an interesting category,” says Pronk. “This is still a fairly small market, but taste remains a really big challenge. If manufacturers are going to successfully target flexitarians across the board, then they need to improve the taste of their products.”
Sustainable ingredient solution
Another benefit of Tendra® is that it provides manufacturers with a highly sustainable ingredient.
“Cosun is a plant-based cooperative consisting of around 9 000 sugar beet farmers, so it makes sense that we would come up with an ingredient solution that fit with our sustainability ambitions,” says Pronk.
“We grow and produce our fava in Europe, and the crop itself is one of the most favourable in terms of water consumption.”
The legume is also known to fix nitrogen in the soil. In terms of sustainability our fava crop compares very favourably to other ingredients on the market, which are transported all over the world.
This is an important consideration for major corporations as well as innovative SMEs, who are all looking to achieve cost efficiencies and reduce their carbon footprints along the whole of their supply chains.
The company has enjoyed a great deal of positive feedback, and is looking to reach more manufacturers at Fi Europe.
“We are looking forward to showcase Tendra® at the event,” says Pronk. “We believe we have a unique nutritional plant-based protein that can solve technical issues with formulations.”
Van Gurp highlights the product’s neutral taste, solubility and emulsifying capacities as the key functional benefits.
Cosun Protein intends to follow up the successful roll-out of Tendra® with more ingredients, to create a portfolio of functional plant-based proteins that address the needs of a range of markets and applications.