Technical staffers anticipate strong growth in the use of a wide variety of protein types after they participated in the 2015 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar, staged by Global Food Forums Inc. Respondents were protein-knowledgeable, i.e., they were selected based on their direct involvement with protein ingredients in R&D, product development and formulation to ensure a sophisticated analysis in this focused study.
When asked “Do you see the use of the following protein types (i.e., concentrated protein powders and/or high-protein content flours) in formulated products as decreasing, increasing or remaining the same in the U.S. in the next two years?", among 30 or so different types of proteins, pea protein ranked at the top, with 88 percent of respondents saying it would have increased use. Pulses followed with 74 percent of the technical respondents indicating increased use; followed by algae and hemp with 72 percent; and quinoa and chia with 66 percent.
It is important to keep in mind that increased use of any particular protein is not correlated to the volume of that protein that will be used in food products. For example, while many more of the food scientist respondents felt insect protein would increase in use as compared to soy protein, soy has one of the largest market shares of commercially used proteins in the world while insect protein are not yet widely available on any type of scale.
Some of the protein types identified are just now becoming commercially available to the food industry, such as duckweed, suggesting that food formulators are now seeking out new approaches to provide the desired protein content in their products. It also underscores the critical importance attributed to protein as an ingredient in contemporary food formulation.
In addition to food formulation, another important question in the survey explored desirable attributes of protein ingredients. Technical staffers were asked: “What are the most important characteristics of a protein ingredient in order to be considered for use?" Sixty-seven percent of individuals indicated functionality as one of the most important characteristics, followed by 49 percent saying “price per pound." Forty-six percent indicated nutrition as one of the most important characteristics.
The survey results were found to be unique and insightful, but not comparable to other general surveys of this subject. Initial reactions to the survey findings from food industry marketing managers have been highly positive.
This survey will again be conducted at the 2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar, May 3 and 4 in the Chicago area.