Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, April 2018

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LAST BITE ■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 58 APRIL 2018 Raising the Plant Protein Bar Manufacturers are formulating high-protein plant-based bars to deliver on taste, texture, and freshness. BY JENNIFER PRINCE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR T raditional protein sources frequently used in nutrition bar manufacturing, like dairy and soy, are still very much in demand, but now, more bar manufactur- ers are also turning to plant-based pro- tein, which presents its own set of unique formulating challenges. Bart Child, senior vice president, com- mercial development, for contract manu- facturer Nellson (Anaheim, CA), tells Nu- tritional Outlook while bar manufacturers have honed strategies for formulating with traditional protein sources like soy over the years, new plant proteins now require the same kind of development. Madelyn Faust, application specialist, bars and confectionery, DuPont Nutrition & Health (New Century, KS), says that the newest and most novel plant proteins often present the biggest manufacturing challenges. "T ese [novel plant proteins] range from brown rice protein to pumpkin seed protein. Many of these are lacking the basic functionality and protein quality compared to more established proteins, such as soy and dairy." T ey often present of -notes and textural issues, as well. Nevertheless, pea protein seems to be one of the frontrunners in plant-based bars, and for good reason: "In recent years, the process- ing technology of pea protein has improved drastically, resulting in enhanced functionality," Faust says. DuPont's TruPro 1614 pea crisp, for instance, is able to deliver 55% protein, a clean f avor prof le, and a neutral color and f avor in bar applications. Another challenge for bar manufacturers is that some plant proteins are incomplete proteins because they lack the amino acids methionine and cysteine. Paige Ties, senior technical service specialist, research and de- velopment, Cargill (Minneapolis), says this is a key area of concern for nutrition bar brands who want to use plant protein, because in or- der to make packaging claims about protein content, the protein must be calculated as a complete protein—meaning that all essential amino acids must be present in the protein. Ties says that nutrition bar formulators can compensate for these limiting amino acids by blending pea protein with another comple- mentary protein source—for example, chick- pea, soy, or pumpkin protein. Another option for manufacturers hoping to hit protein-claim targets is to add additional plant protein, Ties says. But here, too, lies a po- tential pitfall: the more plant protein you add to a formulation, the greater the risk of f avor of -notes and gritty or dry texture. Nellson's Child says that "increasing the protein content has signif cant ef ects on taste and texture." In addition, some plant proteins work bet- ter in one format of nutrition bar than another. Ties explains: "When incorporating a protein powder into the binder of a slab or extruded nutrition bar, it's important to manage protein hydration to optimize the mouthfeel of the bar." In these types of applications, she says, manufacturers may need to include a more functional protein in the oil or water portions of the bar. If the nutrition bar is in a crisp-type format, however, "the water and protein inter- actions are of a dif erent concern, because pro- teins tend to hydrate and compete for water," thus, increasing the density of the crisp. Ties says that one solution for formulating plant proteins in these types of high-protein applications is to add the protein throughout the components of the bar, including in the binder, compound coating, and crisps. "By doing this, you mitigate some of the taste or textural concerns often associated with higher protein levels." One of the single biggest manufacturing hurdles associated with nutrition bars is sta- bility over the course of shelf life. "Consumers expect a similar eating experience whether a bar is only a few months old or almost a year old," says Child. "It is critical to formulate such that the texture [of the bar] does not harden or dry up too much over time." Plant proteins are particularly prone to revealing unpleasant f avor of -notes as they age, Child says, "whether due to interactions with other ingredients in the bar, or degrada- tion of the f avoring agents." Moreover, a high protein content can also increase the hard- ness of a bar. One solution is to increase the water ac- tivity in high-protein bar formulations with- out compromising taste or texture, while ensuring that the bar remains free of mold and yeast, which is something Faust says DuPont's MicroGard 210 ingredient can do. As the nutrition bar category contin- ues to evolve, and as novel protein sources continue to capture consumers' attention, manufacturers are sure to continue stepping up to the plate. Says Child: "With more time for suppliers to ref ne their processes, new versions of all sorts of plant proteins will undoubtedly become increasingly usable in protein bars." Read the full version of this article at www.Nutri- plant-protein-challenges-nutrition-bars ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/ MANLEY099

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