Many leading plant-based meat brands now deploy yellow peas as their primary protein source, from the Beyond Burger to Nestlé’s Awesome Burger. However, formulators typically have to add ingredients (Nestlé adds wheat gluten and methyl cellulose; and Beyond Meat adds methylcellulose) to bind the burgers together and retain juiciness while cooking, explained Nutriati founder Michael Spinelli.
Firms using Artesa textured pulse protein (a proprietary combination of yellow pea protein and Artesa chickpea flour), by contrast, can create juicy plant-based meats without using starches, eggs, wheat gluten, or methyl cellulose - an ingredient with attractive gelling and emulsifying capabilities, but a not very consumer-friendly name - that is found in most leading brands in the space, he claimed.
“Creating a dry blend with the textured pulse protein and the chickpea flour together, the flour in its dry state can intermingle with the textured solution and find its way inside the crevices of that material.
“Once hydrated, cold, that flour starts to hydrate and expand and the protein and the flour together creates a stable dough emulsion that can be formed into different platforms of plant based meats, and that gelation functionality of the chickpea flour with its fine particle size allows us to create a firm but chewable texture, which is what we typically rely on wheat gluten and/or methyl cellulose to achieve.”
A paler color, more neutral flavor, firmer texture than textured pea protein alone
Available in commercial quantities now from PLT Health Solutions and manufacturing and technology partner Nutriati, Artesa textured pulse protein (TPP) is soy-free, non-GMO, allergen-friendly, and cheaper than high-quality textured pea protein, said Spinelli, a food R&D veteran who rose up the ranks at Ben & Jerry’s and Sabra before forming Nutriati in 2013.
Connect with PLT Health and Nutriati at the virtual IFT show July 13-15.
Artesa TPP - utilizing peas and chickpeas sourced from North America - has a paler color, more neutral flavor, firmer texture, and improved water holding capacity vs textured pea protein alone, claimed Spinelli, who has tested it in everything from plant-based seafood, poultry, and pulled pork applications to beef analogs.
“It’s very close to soy when you look at the water absorption index, meaning how much weight of water can it pick up,” said Spinelli, who claimed the TPP is “manufactured to tighter specifications – with less variability – than any other textured protein on the market today.”
He added: “It holds the water and retains its texture and resiliency after hydration, whereas some textured [plant protein] solutions can become slimy and greasy and don’t hold up well in application.”
Products likely to hit shelves in the next six months
He added: “We’re hearing from multiple customer partners from startups to multinationals that this is a truly unique solution.”
While there are a lot of ‘me-too’ products in the plant-based meat segment as scores of players sensing an opportunity have piled in utilizing off the shelf ingredients, there is also some “crazy innovative” work going on to improve taste and texture, said Spinelli.
“I’d say anytime in the next two quarters you’ll start to see products [featuring the TPP] hitting shelves.”
Artesa TPP can be listed on the ingredients list as 'Textured pulse protein (yellow pea protein, Artesa chickpea flour).'
Virginia-based Nutriati – which recently raised $12.7m in a Series C funding round led by Manna Tree Partners and supported by Open Prairie – is also seeing strong interest in its Artesa chickpea protein and chickpea flour, which have potential in a broad range of applications from plant-based dairy alternatives and protein bars to gluten-free baked goods, says the company.