Manufacturers can secure a market-leading position by combining several plant-derived ingredients to promote health and well-being on multiple fronts, according to Roquette.
Health and well-being is one of the key drivers behind the plant-protein trend. High-profile products like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are marketed to 'flexitarians' who appreciate the taste and texture of meat but are committed to reducing their intake for health reasons and/or due to concerns over sustainability and animal welfare.
However, Benjamin Voiry, Head of Marketing for Europe and Asia of Roquette's Food Business Unit, believes that focusing on protein alone means missing out on a raft of other benefits that can boost a product's health appeal.
"Plant-based ingredients have a wider range of applications for food manufacturers than just replacing meat," he said. "They can be targeted on other specific consumer needs."
Roquette's plant-based portfolio includes ingredients for energy management, sugar-reduction, fibre enrichment and – of course – plant-derived proteins that can replace animal proteins or give an additional nutritional boost to a range of applications.
A holistic approach
"These four health & wellbeing topics are key to our customers," said Voiry. "When you look at one you have to look to the others too."
He added that Roquette takes a holistic approach with its customers. Rather than just selling them ingredients, the customer technical service team work closely with them to understand their needs and all the ways in which the nutritional profile of their formulations can be improved, while maintaining indulgence.
"Our customers can play with the whole plant-based ingredient portfolio."
A major driver of reformulation in Europe is the Nutri-Score front-of-pack labelling scheme, which increases consumer awareness of healthier – and less healthy – food products by scoring them on a scale of A to E, based on content of fruits and vegetables, fibre, protein, energy, sugar, saturated fatty acids, and sodium.
In response, manufacturers adopt a variety of different strategies. Some prefer to reformulate their main brand along healthier lines, while others leave the original alone but develop an alternative offering alongside with, for instance, 30% less sugar or none at all. Either way, the key is not compromising product quality and enjoyment.
"It is really case by case. There is no one solution working for all situations if you want to preserve the texture or the taste."
"When we discuss and understand the specification and what the customer wants to target, we can find the best approach to reduce the sugar content."
In addition to formulation, Roquette makes available the findings of clinical trials to its customers, and can lend its expertise in marketing and regulatory compliance.
Inside Roquette's plant portfolio
To achieve an all-round better Nutri-Score for a mainstream food product, for example, a customer might boost protein content by adding in a NUTRALYS® plant protein, and use NUTRIOSE® soluble fiber to both reduce sugar and increase fibre content.
With its NUTRALYS® plant proteins, Roquette was ahead of the curve on plant-based proteins. In 2019, it expanded its original pea-derived offering with a new fava bean textured protein, and continues to develop different grades for applications ranging from specialised nutrition, to dairy, to textured proteins for plant-based meat. In late 2020, Roquette will be able to meet more demand for pea protein from North America when its new factory in Portage la Prairie, in Canada's pulse-growing region of Manitoba, comes online.
Meanwhile NUTRIOSE® (from wheat, maize or pea) has the added benefits of low glycaemic impact and prebiotic properties to promote growth of beneficial gut microbiota. It recently gained the Low FODMAP certification from Monash University in Australia on the ground that the fibres do not result in digestive discomfort. FODMAP stands for 'fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols', and certification makes it an attractive ingredient in foods for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome.
In the arena of specialised and sports nutrition, Roquette's newest product, pea starch LN 30, has been researched for its ability to offer steady energy release and its low impact on blood glucose response. It is particularly well suited for active nutrition applications like powder shakes and snack bars.