Tips for Developing an Awesome Plant-Based Protein Blend
Veggies, please! Lately, the health and wellness community can't seem to get enough plant (and plant-based) proteins! With the demand for vegan and vegetarian proteins on the rise, we couldn't help but wonder: When it comes to manufacturing a top-selling plant protein, what's more important – taste or texture?
Do you have you have your answer? 'Cause we have ours!
When it comes to crafting a shelf-hopping plant-based protein the answer is...
If fact, both taste and texture are tremendously important factors when it comes to crafting a plant protein that people will actually enjoy taking.
(And anyone who says otherwise has clearly never tried to swallow a predominantly Brown Rice Protein blend or tasted a Hemp protein-based blend.)
Funnily enough, for inexperienced and experienced dietary supplement manufacturers – a good (let along great) tasting plant protein can be one of the most difficult to manufacture. Over the years our team has worked with dozens of different plant-based protein products. Here are some of the most common mistakes we've seen competitors make:
Key Taste & Texture Mistakes to Avoid When Formulating a Plant (or Plant-Based) Protein
Some of the biggest players in the plant-based protein arena are Brown Rice, Pea, Hemp, and Soy protein. While each protein variety does have its advantages, each of the four varieties has a handful of characteristics that should always be kept in mind during the formulation process (especially if your end goal is to create a product that's palatable).
Working with Brown Rice Protein
Taste and Texture Hurdles: While Brown Rice protein may be one of the more popular plant proteins on the market (often finding itself a key component in plant protein blends), it's been called out by many for its incredibly dry and chalky consistency as well as a taste, which at times has been described as "faintly reminiscent of cardboard and air."
Manufacturing Note: Despite its growing popularity, Brown Rice protein can be a surprisingly difficult ingredient to source. Within the nutraceutical industry, most types of rice and rice protein have been recognized as being prone to heavy metal contamination, which can translate to longer sourcing and lead times for BR protein containing products.
Like the rest of the proteins on the list, the key to making Brown Rice protein taste great is finding the right ingredients to blend it with and some excellent flavoring work.
Working with Pea Protein
Taste and Texture Hurdles: While pea protein may not be as dry and Brown Rice protein, it can have a bit of an after taste (which, as is always the case with taste, some people find less than appetizing).
One of the more popular plant proteins of the moment, pea protein is usually used in protein blends containing other plant proteins and ingredients.
Working with Hemp Protein
Taste and Texture Hurdles: In this industry, people tend to have some strong feelings about Hemp protein. While we've heard stories about people liking the taste of hemp protein, it seems as though the majority of people find it to have an overwhelmingly earthy taste.
Our advice when it comes to including Hemp protein in your plant protein blend: Taste a little first.
Manufacturing/Formulation Note: Thanks to its undeniably strong taste, it doesn't take much hemp (as little as 1 gram per serving) for the taste of your protein blend to change.
Working with Soy Protein
Taste and Texture Hurdles: While Soy may be one of the better tasting proteins, it's currently the owner of one of the most damaged protein reputations (thanks largely to concerns regard its estrogen content and global conversations about GMOs).
Despite the slightly tarnished reputation, Soy may still be an option worth considering for your plant protein blend, but be warned - adding too much Soy to your formula can cause your protein to take on a super thick (vaguely mud-like) consistency.
Other Plant Protein Flavoring & Manufacturing Tips
Along with keeping all of the above in mind, you may want to consider the following:
- Along with other proteins, adding greens, grains, and other seeds (think ingredients like flax and chia) to your protein blend can be an effective way to set your product apart from the rest.
- Fact: Plant-based materials (like plant proteins) simply don't take flavor the same way that milk-based products (like whey or casein proteins) will. That being said, chocolate has been found to be a universally effective protein flavor.
- Chances are, you're going to have to add other ingredients and agents to your plant protein blend in order to create a satisfying and palatable "mouth feel" or texture.
At the end of the day, formulating and flavoring a rock-star plant protein blend can have its challenges, but with the help of an experienced production, flavoring, and manufacturing team it's more than possible to create a great tasting plant protein.
About the Author: Melissa DellaBartolomea
Melissa DellaBartolomea was the resident Content Marketing Specialist at NutraScience Labs from February 2016 to July 2018. Driven by a passion for the world of written, visual, and digital media, she's dedicated herself to keeping up with all things nutraceutical. From ingredient insights to the latest in contract manufacturing regulations and trends, her mission is to provide our readers (like you) with the stories and knowledge they need to fuel long-term growth and nutraceutical industry success.