LaVitella Lacto Trade: Many applications for pea proteinPublished: 19-08-2015
The excellent functionalities and great taste of pea protein make it suitable for many applications. Textured pea protein is suitable for meat replacements in particular. Extruded pea flour is used in the food and feed industry. LaVitella’s sister company, Lacto Trade, markets this sustainably sourced protein in the Benelux in a collaboration with French ingredient supplier Sotexpro.
Anticipating the current popularity of sustainably sourced proteins, LaVitella and Lacto Trade decided several years ago to start exploring protein sources other than milk and whey powder. It was a daring move for LaVitella, which specializes in dairy protein-based sports food and diet products, and for Lacto Trade, which deals in smaller batches of whey and milk powders.
Pea protein has great potential, according to John Hendriks and Coen van Poll, the founders of the two companies. It is more sustainable than soy protein because peas can be grown much closer to The Netherlands than soya, eliminating the need for long distance shipping. Hendriks and Van Poll also point out that soya cultivation often leads to deforestation.
Western European farms are well suited to growing peas. Farmers need a fourth crop to supplement their crop rotation of potatoes, grains and sugar beets. An additional benefit is that pea plants fixate nitrogen and improve the soil. All this helps to reduce the pea’s carbon footprint to a fraction of that of soya.
Lacto Trade has been marketing pea protein as an alternative to soy protein for several years. Their pea powder is textured and sold in various grades for use as an ingredient in different applications. Pea protein tastes great and has excellent functionalities. It has many potential uses, Hendriks explains. “Textured pea protein has a great water and fat-binding capacity. That’s what makes it very suitable as a meat replacement and in Bolognese-type sauces. It has excellent structure, texture and mouthfeel. Its small carbon footprint makes it an interesting alternative to soy protein in vegetarian burgers. A pea protein-based burger is considered the Rolls Royce of meat replacements. And pea protein can also be added to meat to create a hybrid product.”
Other food applications for pea protein include high-protein cereal bars and gluten-free bread crumbs. The former is a promising new addition to LaVitella’s range of sports and diet foods.
The feed industry has also shown great interest in pea protein. Since many years Lacto Trade supplies extruded pea flower to the feed industry, in particular for calve milk replacers. Van Poll says. “There are great opportunities to substitute some of the animal protein in feed with pea protein. Another benefit is that a small amount of pea flour thickens milk replacers and keep the other ingredients in suspension. You don’t need much, a few percent of pea protein usually does the trick.”