Plant-based protein is taking market share from dairy-based options, especially in the beverage category. According to the Plant Based Foods Association, sales of plant-based milks grew 6% last year, while sales of dairy milk fell 3%. On top of this, 2019 SPINS scan data revealed that plant-based ready-to-drink beverages, such as protein shakes and smoothies, grew 23% from April 2018 to April 2019.

While health concerns are driving consumers to plant-based protein, taste is still a primary driver of purchase decisions – and plant-based options on the market to date aren’t living up to expectations. Consumers simply want more plant-based drink options that do not sacrifice taste and texture. Very often, plant-based protein ingredients impart off-notes, a vegetal aftertaste, and chalky, unpleasant textures.

However, we’re proud to share two pea protein innovations from Merit Functional Foods that change that notion: Peazazz® and Peazac® 850 are here to solve the formulation challenges other plant-based protein ingredients have historically faced.

Recently, Merit conducted a third-party research study where a trained panel was used to identify sensory descriptors for pea protein. Quantitative descriptive analysis was used to measure the intensity of these flavor and taste attributes for Merit’s pea protein portfolio as well as other pea proteins in the market.

This objective sensory data was then paired with data collected in consumer testing, where the hedonic scores (liking) of the proteins based on a range of attributes was collected. Findings indicated that Merit’s lineup of pea proteins was preferred over other pea proteins in the market on taste, likeability, and texture.

Through our water based, hexane free proprietary extraction and purification processes, Merit produces pea protein ingredients with excellent solubility and neutral flavor profiles, retaining delicious taste and creamy texture while eliminating the need for bitter masking agents. As the marketplace grows for products formulated with plant protein, Merit’s lineup of pea proteins can help brands differentiate from their competition by delivering an incredible, repeat-purchase-worthy sensory experience. What’s more is that Merit sources, and manufactures its non-GMO and organic pea proteins locally in Canada – ensuring that you are getting the highest quality pea proteins in the market, with the desirable taste and texture that formulators are seeking.

Ready-to-Mix Powders

In dry powder mixes, such as for sports nutrition or meal replacement shakes, plant-based protein ingredients often introduce unappetizing flavors and gritty textures. Fortunately, the creamy mouthfeel and neutral flavor of Peazac 850 can solve these challenges.

Peazac 850 is a clean label pea protein ingredient that is light in color, low in flavor intensity, and high in solubility, which translates to a smooth, full body for beverages. Higher solubility allows formulators to achieve a creamier mouthfeel without the need for gums or hydrocolloids that add cost or turn off consumers. The 85% protein ingredient complements nearly any flavor system and performs exceptionally well in ready-to-mix drink powders. The moderate viscosity and high solubility of Peazac 850 ensures that dry mixes dissolve into water to make a consistent, silky texture.

Ready-to-Drink and Fortified Beverages

High protein is also trending in ready-to-drink beverages as more consumers factor convenience into their purchase decisions. Whether it’s a post-workout smoothie, a weight loss shake, or even a bottled cappuccino, RTD beverage brands are increasingly featuring protein as part of their value propositions. Peazazz, a high-purity pea protein from Merit, exemplifies attributes that improve consumers’ experience of RTD beverages.

Peazazz’s neutral flavor is compatible with nearly any ready-to-drink beverage formulation, as well as plant-based dairy alternatives such as plant milks and coffee creamers. The 90% protein ingredient has a clean taste and offers premium solubility. As the purest pea protein on the market today, formulators need not worry about sedimentation settling to the bottom of the bottle.

High protein beverages are also a good delivery vehicle for functional ingredients. Protein drinks fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, BCAAs, or MCT oil appeal to other consumer health trends and lifestyles, such as keto and anti-inflammatory diets. Today’s convenience-driven consumer will appreciate being able to meet their targeted nutrition needs with their daily protein-enhanced drink. Both Peazac 850 and Peazazz provide neutral taste and smooth textures to fortified beverages, minimizing the need for formulators to use thickeners and masking agents in these applications while maintaining a desirable mouthfeel that consumers are looking for.

A Better Plant Protein for Beverages – pure and simple.

With demand rising for plant-based protein sources, consumers seek out applications that can deliver the muscle-building macronutrient without compromising taste. The brands that can be depended upon to provide great taste and texture in high-protein beverages are the brands that plant-based protein consumers will seek out again and again. In Peazazz and Peazac 850, formulators now have options for enhancing consumers’ sensory experience while boosting the protein content of applications.

Interested in learning more about formulating with a pure, clean-tasting pea protein? Please reach out or request a sample – we would love to discuss.