Pea protein gets a boost in allergen-free baked goods

21 Feb 2019

Demand has increased for several ingredients with the rise of plant-based proteins, including those from soy, wheat and oats, but pea protein has an allergen-free advantage.

The global pea protein market is set to grow at a CAGR of 12.9% to 2024, according to a research report from Global Market Insights, driven by increased use in sports supplements, nutraceuticals and meat substitutes. Extracted from dried and ground yellow split peas, pea protein has properties that work well in baked goods too, such as water holding capacity, gelation, and increased browning. Particularly in gluten-free products, pea protein ingredients are on the rise, whether as isolates, concentrates or flour.

Pea protein gets a boost in allergen-free baked goods

The market has benefited from overall interest in high protein foods, which is expanding into bakery from other sectors. Supplier Roquette started out using pea protein to improve the texture and yield of meat and fish products, but says its biggest market now is the specialist nutrition sector, for sports, clinical applications and weight management. It has also seen a rapid increase in demand for pea protein in meat and dairy substitutes, and baked goods manufacturers are now turning to peas as an allergen-free, high protein alternative to whey, soy and wheat ingredients.

According to Mintel data, the number of new product launches containing pea protein rose a whopping 195% from 2013 to 2016.

Although pea protein allows companies to replace common allergens, it also has some disadvantages, including a less complete amino acid profile, meaning it has to be blended with other protein ingredients to provide all nine essential amino acids. It may also have a slight pulse-like flavour, which is less than desirable in many baked goods.

Cargill, which produces an organic pea protein range, claims it has managed to minimise these off-flavours, and says its pea protein is used in a range of baked goods, including cereals, waffles, bread and snacks. Ingredion and Cosucra are other suppliers who also claim to have tackled pea protein’s notorious taste issues, to allow their use in more flavour-sensitive applications like bakery.

However, if bakery manufacturers aim to use pea flours in place of wheat flour, they must also be aware of the impact on dough structure. Potential approaches to retaining the dough’s workability include using blends of gluten-free flours, using enzymes, and improving moisture content by using liquid sweeteners in the place of granulated sugar.