What are some of the underlying trends driving health and natural foods?
"We’re entering an exciting new era for the plant-based industry. While plant-based foods have long been synonymous with healthy eating, we’re now seeing that consumers are increasingly aware of the nutritional content of plant-based foods and are looking for even healthier options.
“One key nutritional claim that consumers are looking for is protein. There’s also growing awareness that not all proteins are created equal, so people are increasingly scrutinising labels to identify the type and amount of protein in their food and drinks.”
In which product categories are we seeing more and more plant-based options?
“Plant-based options are everywhere; drinks, snacks, centre-of-plate proteins and more have seen significant investment and new product launches. What’s really interesting is the applications that are seeing the most growth.
“For example, the global plant-based dairy alternatives market is worth €18 billion, and oat-based alternatives are commanding an increasingly high portion of new product launches and sales.
“Such fast-growing demand has, unsurprisingly, attracted a lot of attention from brands with many looking for ways to set their oat-based alternatives apart from the rest. One key battleground is nutrition. Dairy alternatives like oat milk can have a large nutritional gap when compared to dairy milk, not only in vitamins and minerals, but also protein.”
What challenges are manufacturers currently facing in meeting this growing demand?
“Soaring inflation, volatile costs, and disrupted supply chains have been a consistent concern across the food and beverage industry. It’s a constantly evolving landscape and one that we’ve been able to navigate with our customers by relying on our global, diverse network of partners.
“Looking more broadly at dairy alternatives, a growing number of consumers worldwide are adding more plant-based options to their diets and about 15% of consumers say they are trying to limit their dairy intake. This presents another challenge for the industry as consumers still want the great taste and health benefits of traditional dairy products, like yoghurts and creamy drinks. At the same time, consumers are questioning the reality of how healthy and sustainable major plant-based dairy alternatives are. This has led to an increase in popularity for new plant-based protein options, including those made from nuts, oats, legumes, and seeds, which are overtaking soy protein in particular.”
What new ingredient solutions have you developed to address these challenges?
“So, this is where canola protein comes in. This is a new, innovative ingredient that enables a strong protein fortification claim, not only by increasing the amount of protein but also improving its quality. Canola protein developed by DSM is a plant protein isolate with more than 90% protein –and a complete amino acid profile.”
What are the key functional benefits?
“Canola protein is highly digestible, making it the ideal alternative to animal-derived proteins. Due to its high solubility, it can be used to fortify these plant-based milk alternatives so they can compete with dairy-based products. It can improve protein content without negatively impacting mouthfeel and adding an appealing texture. We’ll have some dairy alternatives formulated with our canola protein available to try at Fi Europe – so do stop by to taste for yourself!
“It’s also a great team player, combining well with pea and fava proteins to increase protein quality. Canola protein supplements the amino acid profile of legume proteins, notably with sulphur-containing amino acids—perfect for consumers who are shopping for complete nutrition to support performance and recovery.
“Plant-based sports nutrition is also seeing a boom in new product development (NPD) and consumer interest. And while whey protein is still the gold standard in performance nutrition, canola protein’s impressive PDCAAS [protein digestibility corrected amino acid score] of one means plant-based applications with a nutritional profile comparable to whey can now be formulated.
“In meat alternatives the functionality can further improve texture, as our canola protein can add resilience and improved chewiness to applications.”
Could you explain how your canola ingredient is produced?
“DSM canola protein comes from a non-GMO source and does not contain soy, gluten, dairy, or any of the ‘big-8’ allergens. It is highly sustainable, because we are valorising the press cake that is left over from canola oil extraction. This means no additional arable land or farming is needed to grow the raw materials for canola protein.
“DSM’s patented processing method takes the by-products from canola oil production to create a highly bioavailable native protein. Previously these by-products were not suitable for human consumption and were only used for animal feed, but they still contained 30 to 40% high-quality protein. Now, once the canola proteins are extracted uses DSM’s method, the remaining press cake can still be used as animal feed. With canola protein, DSM is striving for a truly circular production process with minimal waste and the lowest carbon footprint possible.”
What do you hope attendees learn from your FiE presentation?
“That the plant protein space is evolving fast. Traditional plant proteins – like soy – are beginning to fall out of favour with consumers as they scrutinise allergen and sustainability credentials. This has left a gap in the market. And while trending oat, rice, pea, and nut proteins have been stepping in to plug this gap, these often don’t carry the nutritional profile of the products they are imitating.
“We believe that canola protein is the sustainable, nutritious, and easily formulated plant protein that the food and beverage industry needs. Canola protein ticks all the boxes, it valorises a by-product from oil production, has a PDCAAS comparable to animal derived proteins, and is easily formulated into a range of plant-based alternatives with its neutral taste and appealing mouthfeel.
“DSM is launching canola protein commercially at the end of 2022 and we can’t wait to see how brands use the ingredient to take their plant-based applications to the next level.”