Flavor may hinge on protein source

by Jeff Gelski
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Protein snacks
Chicken protein may work better in savory applications while wheat protein would be better suited for baked foods.
 

CHICAGO — Consumers often select products based on protein content, but any off-flavor associated with the protein could keep them from buying the products a second time. To avoid such flavor issues, food formulators should know the source of protein may be pivotal. Chicken protein, for example, may go well with savory applications. Wheat protein may be more suited for grain-based foods, considering many of those products contain wheat already.

Half of North Americans say they eat a form of protein with every meal, according to the Nielsen Co., New York. In the United States, products labeled as an “excellent source of protein” grew 12% in a year’s time while products labeled as a “good source of protein” grew 4%, according to Nielsen.

“Consumers want protein in their diet,” said Stephanie Lynch, vice-president of technology, sales and marketing, protein, for International Dehydrated Foods, Springfield, Mo. “They consider it a healthier way to eat than empty carbohydrates. It gives you satiety.”

IDF offers CHiKPRO chicken protein powder for various applications. The company got started with dehydrated chicken, which leaves a protein:fat ratio of about 1:1, Ms. Lynch said. Under a patent-pending system, CHiKPRO is cooked to remove the fat and then dehydrated. IDF then heats the dehydrated chicken to cook off fat. The final chicken protein powder ingredient is more than 80% protein.

Chicken protein works well in savory applications because chicken flavor has a natural umami note, Ms. Lynch said. IDF has created a low-fat, high-protein gravy prototype. A broccoli and gravy dish may contain 20 grams of protein, enough for an excellent source claim.

In pasta, chicken protein may be added to fillings. The amount of fat could be reduced in ravioli filling, for example. Chicken protein can be added directly to the noodles, too. Soups are another option. Adding chicken protein to a chicken noodle soup might allow for a high protein claim.

In sports nutrition products, chicken proteins can offer recovery and rehydration benefits, according to IDF. It is rich in electrolytes and has a potassium:sodium ratio of 2:1.

Chicken protein also offers non-allergen benefits as it is soy-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Plant protein has become on trend in recent years. The 2017 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation found 72% of respondents consider protein from plant sources to be healthy. Other responses were neither healthy nor unhealthy (15%), unhealthy (1%) and unaware (11%). The percentages for animal protein were 38% for healthy, 32% for neither healthy nor unhealthy, 10% for unhealthy and 20% for unaware.

Legume ingredients represent one plant protein option offered by Kerry, which has a U.S. office in Beloit, Wis. The company says its legume ingredients as ways to add both protein and fiber to snacks.

“Each legume has its own flavor profile,” said Brent Bussinger, R.&D. scientist for Kerry. “A black bean crisp might go better with a Southwest-inspired granola while a garbanzo crisp can lend itself to a sweet bar or granola.”

Kerry offers both puffed legumes and legume crisps. Puffed legumes, because of their size and shape, work well in trail mixes, clusters and bars, Mr. Bussinger said.

“Some of the larger puffed legumes are large enough to make a pop-able snack on their own when applied with a sweet or savory coating,” he said.

Legume crisps work well in bars, clusters and granola, not only because they add protein and fiber but also because they add volume due to their low density.

“They are fairly taste neutral,” Mr. Bussinger said. “So they can be used in a sweet or savory application.”

Pulses, which include chickpeas, beans, peas and lentils, are a type of legume. Clean taste pulses won an IFT17 Food Expo Innovation Award at IFT17, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in June in Las Vegas. Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., and AGT Food and Ingredients, Regina, Sask., partnered to develop the pulses.

“Ingredion, Inc. and AGT Foods worked together to overcome several difficult technical challenges to reduce flavor while maintaining other desirable product characteristics such as protein content and quality, overall nutritional content and the functionality provided by the pulse flours and proteins,” said Igor Playner, vice-president of innovation and strategy, North America, at Ingredion, Inc.

Wheat protein isolates are ideal for wheat flour-based formulations, according to MGP Ingredients, Inc., Atchison, Kas. The company offers an Arise line of wheat protein isolates that may be incorporated into applications such as flatbread crusts, tortillas, pan bread, rolls, bakery mixes, and pasta. MGP Ingredients continues to expand its line of Non-GMO Project verified ingredients, including Arise 5000, Arise 5500, Arise 6000, Arise 8000, Arise 8100 and Arise 8200.

Manildra Group USA, Leawood, Kas., offers GemPro wheat protein isolates. GemPro 4400, for example, provides protein while improving the textural qualities of products. It has been shown to improve flavor, lighten texture and increase volume in whole grain applications. GemPro Ultra, a soluble wheat protein, is designed for use in beverages, nutrition bars and high-protein baked foods and snacks.

Whey protein, because of its taste as well as its texture and shelf life benefits, often is found in bars. Arla Foods Ingredients, Viby, Denmark, offered a snack bar with whey protein at the I.F.T. event. Arla derives its whey proteins from milk produced by grass-fed cows.

Arla will unveil a “Nutrition for Life” campaign at Food Ingredients Europe Nov. 28-30 in Messe Frankfurt, Germany. The campaign will focus on applications in pediatrics, health food and medical nutrition.

“Whey’s unique selling point is that it can be used to create ingredients that support consumer health from infancy to adulthood and right through to retirement and beyond,” said Manel Romeu Bellés, marketing manager. “Food manufacturers are in the perfect position to harness this strength and help consumers manage their health with tasty products made with whey-based ingredients that deliver targeted nutritional needs at each life stage.”

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