Plant proteins' next evolution: Lupin beans

7 Mar 2022

Delivering on taste, texture and health benefits, lupin beans are emerging as a viable contender in the race to dominate the plant-based protein industry. We look at some innovative startups using this ingredient.

Lupin beans, also known as lupini beans, are a legume that food innovators have recently gravitated towards thanks to their nutritional profile. Sweet lupins contain all nine essential amino acids and are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, have natural emulsifying properties and the lowest glycaemic index of any seed regularly consumed by humans. They also deliver up to 44% protein, 30% dietary fibre and low carbohydrates. These legumes also happen to be good for the environment as well.

Plant proteins' next evolution: Lupin beans

Lupin beans contribute directly to the sustainability of agriculture. Grown as feedstock in poorer regions, they have also historically been a snack in the Mediterranean basin. Although lupin beans have had a long history in human agriculture and have been widely cultivated — the beans grow in several countries in Europe, Australia and the Andean Mountains — “lupin production in Europe is insufficient to guarantee the stable and sufficient supply required for its use by the food and feed industry,” according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

Despite this limited production, demand for this legume is growing. Future Market Insights expects the lupin market size to grow at a 5.1% compound annual growth rate over the next 10 years from $89 million (€82 million) in 2022.

A New Protein Source With Long-Term Staying Power? 

As plant-based sources of protein continue to increase in importance for consumers, manufacturers are latching on to new versatile alternatives like lupin. Lupin has the ability to be used as an alternative to dairy and meat, but it can also be added as a protein ingredient to baked foods, bakery mixes, snacks, crackers and pasta.

Wide Open Agriculture in Western Australia is working with Curtin University to extract high-grade protein from this legume and use it as an ingredient in foods like bread and pasta. In Sweden, there are two startups, LuFu and Lupinita, which make tofu and chicken bites as well as soy-free tempeh, respectively. Nabati Foods out of Canada is using lupin as a base ingredient in its vegan liquid egg alternative. In the U.S., Mikuna has transformed the Andean variety called chocho into a protein powder for athletes.

Meanwhile, Eighth Day Foods whose Lupreme meat alternative product is sourced from one ingredient, sweet lupins. The company transformed this legume into a sustainable, ultra-low processed and healthy alternative to meat and seafood for manufacturers.

Eighth Day Foods was a finalist in the Most Innovative F&B Ingredient or Processing Technology category at the Startup Innovation Challenge held at Fi Europe in 2021 and recently received $1 million in funding (€922,335,000) to help further develop its Lupreme product. The company said it intends to scale up as a B2B supplier and its goal is to feed 8 billion people with nutritious, sustainable food by 2030.


Related news