Is pea protein the key to unlocking grit-free texture in plant-based beverages?

Whey protein has long been the ingredient of choice for beverages with high protein fortification. It’s a complete protein that supports a positive sensory experience due to its high solubility, smooth, grit-free texture and neutral taste that does not get in the way of flavor profiles consumers love. In a market where consumers won’t compromise, these are critical sensory attributes that need to meet expectations.

However, for the rapidly growing plant-based and flexitarian audiences – an impressive 62% of US households (according to SPINS) now purchase plant-based products – it begs a major question: why does there always seem to be a tradeoff in taste, texture and nutrition when using plant protein that often prevents repeat purchase of plant-based products?

The key to eliminating the pitfalls of the plant-based pivot is recognizing that there are differences in how plant proteins are manufactured and these can result in tradeoffs in sensory profile, functional performance, price and even sustainability. Understanding the ways plant proteins are produced can help identify ingredients that utilize new manufacturing technologies that overcome the issues that heritage technologies can’t solve.

In this article, we’re putting the spotlight on improved texture and mouthfeel and an innovation in plant protein that supports grit-free plant-based beverages, even at double-digit protein fortification levels!

Peazazz C™: The Soluble Pea Protein that Enables Grit-free Texture in RTD Beverages & Plant Milks

Pea protein has always been on the forefront of the plant protein movement, as it is nutrient-rich, has an attractive amino acid profile, lower allergenicity and is sustainable. With its popularity has come many different pea protein options, each with unique sourcing stories, nutritional profiles and functional benefits to entice formulators.

Despite all the options on the market, however, pea protein has struggled to reach a solubility level that doesn’t result in a gritty texture and sedimentation in high protein ready-to-drink beverages.

This inspired Merit Functional Foods’ team to apply our market expertise to uncover a solution to produce a unique taste-forward pea protein with functionality and nutrition anything currently available.

Leveraging our patented membrane filtration technology, we are proud to introduce Peazazz C™ pea protein, a novel solution to upholding exceptional solubility, low viscosity and clean taste in beverage applications. This new pea protein ingredient has up to 88% protein and a neutral flavor profile. What’s more, it’s made with peas grown on the Western Canadian prairies and processed locally in Winnipeg, Manitoba, reducing food miles and offering food and beverage brands a trusted source of pea protein that is fully traceable back to the farm.

Pushing the Boundaries for Plant-based Beverage Performance

For an RTD beverage to deliver on consumers’ expectations for convenience, it should provide a smooth, grit-free texture without chalkiness from the first sip to the last, avoiding the need for vigorous shaking to redistribute sediment. Merit’s applications team has created a 100% plant-based RTD beverage concept with up to 32g of plant protein that has zero grit or chalkiness, even at 10% protein inclusion levels.

The key to this performance is Peazazz C™’s uniquely high solubility and low viscosity, which enables higher inclusion levels than standard pea protein, without chalkiness or sedimentation. From a nutritional perspective, Peazazz C™ stands out from other pea proteins with four times less sodium than other pea proteins, meeting consumer demand for healthier options.

SPINS notes that the repeat purchase rate for plant-based products hovered between 78 – 79 percent throughout 2020 and 2021. Could plant-based beverages with grit-free texture be the opportunity that pushes this number to new heights in 2022 and beyond? We think so!

To learn more about how Peazazz C™ can unlock a smooth, grit- and sediment-free experience for your next plant-based beverage innovation, visit our website or contact a Merit Functional Foods representative.

Leave a Comment