New research by FutureBridge has identified the four ‘next-generation’ proteins which it claims are best positioned to displace today’s plant-based offerings. The research services company says that while the market for plant-based protein is growing – projected to reach $10.8 billion globally by 2022 – complex issues are emerging in the industry, for example surrounding the sustainability of ingredient sourcing. The firm argues that manufacturers need to start looking beyond wheat, soy and pea protein and move towards a more diverse range of crops. According to FutureBridge, its new plant protein analysis brought together the firm’s start-ups database with its in-house software and data analytics. It also built on a detailed assessment of available technologies in relation to scalability, sustainability, nutrition and functionality, to identify the following list of upcoming plant proteins:
- Mung bean – has many of the same amino acids as eggs, providing gelation and emulsification properties. FutureBridge says a switch from egg to mung bean could allow a saving of 1 billion gallons of water per year;
- Chickpea – is emerging as an alternative to pea protein. Research, cited by FutureBridge, claimed that the protein digestibility of lysine and proline was higher in extruded chickpea than in yellow pea;
- Coconut – has characteristics popular with the growing alternative dairy sector. The 20 manufacturers of plant-based cheese in FutureBridge’s database all utilise coconut protein as a key ingredient;
- Seaweed – is expected to grow in popularity in coming years, propelled by the requirement for clean-label umami taste in the alternative seafood sector.