The Rise of Pea Protein in Healthy Plant-Based Food Performance

While today’s selection of proteins is undoubtedly vast, consumers are becoming more selective in their choices for their health and environment. As the spotlight on plant-based performance and wellness grows brighter in consumer articles and documentaries, so does the evidential support for plant-based eating patterns as beneficial for both individuals and our planet.

This shift in consumer habits and preferences is fueling an interesting trend: pea protein. Yes, you read that right—peas, the humble childhood dinner staple you might have once pushed aside on your plate, are now taking the stage as a viable and sustainable plant-based protein powerhouse. So, pea protein is everywhere—but is it healthy? In this blog, we dive deep into the world of pea protein to uncover why this green gem is creating waves in the food & feed separation industry.

Unpacking Pea Protein

Pea protein is extracted from yellow peas, also known as split peas. This plant-based protein has been gaining popularity due to its high protein content and excellent amino acid profile. However, not all pea proteins are made equal. Let’s take a closer look at the two main types: pea protein concentrate and pea protein isolate.

Pea Protein Concentrate vs Isolate

Pea protein concentrate and pea protein isolate are differentiated by the processing method used, particularly whether a dry or wet solvent process is used, and the protein content they possess. Pea isolate utilizes a wet fractionation process that often uses alkali to separate protein and attain levels of 80-85%.  Pea protein concentrate is processed via a dry process and results in protein levels of about 55%.  Because pea concentrate uses no water or chemicals and generates less waste, it is preferred environmentally. The dry process also retains more nutritional value as more fats and carbohydrates are retained.  STET’s technology is a bolt-on to the pea concentrate process and boosts protein via a water, heat and chemical-free dry process to 70%.

Pea Protein Nutritional Profile and Benefits

It’s particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) crucial for muscle growth and recovery. Additionally, pea protein is hypoallergenic, making it a suitable choice for those with dietary restrictions or food sensitivities. Its versatility in food formulations along with being one of the more easily digested plant proteins makes it a popular choice in a wide range of food products.

With its excellent nutritional profile, eco-friendly credentials, and versatility in food formulations, it’s no wonder that pea protein is rapidly rising in popularity.

Pea Protein in Food

Pea protein is showing up in various food categories, quickly becoming a favorite choice among both manufacturers and consumers. Here are a few key areas where it’s making its mark:

  • Meat Substitutes: Pea protein’s robust texture and high protein content make it an ideal ingredient for plant-based meats, from burgers to sausages.
  • Dairy Alternatives: It’s used in non-dairy yogurts, cheeses, and milk due to its hypoallergenic properties and versatility.
  • Protein Bars and Shakes: Fitness enthusiasts are choosing pea protein for its rich BCAA content, which is critical for muscle recovery.

The reasons behind its rising popularity in these food categories are diverse: it’s hypoallergenic, plant-based, has a great nutritional profile, and can easily be incorporated into different food formulations. Plus, its production is more eco-friendly than many animal-based proteins, aligning with growing consumer interest in sustainable food choices. On top of that, more and more consumers are moving away from meat and opting for plant-based options.

The Demand for 100% Dry Processed Protein

One exciting development catching the eye of consumers and manufacturers is the rising interest in 100% dry processed protein. But why does this matter? Well, dry processing is gaining traction due to its environmental and economic advantages. This method aligns with the drive toward sustainability by reducing processing and waste, eliminating water use,  and increasing cost effectiveness. These factors make it not just a viable but the preferred choice in in many food applications by meeting the increasing demand for planet-friendly, sustainable food solutions.

STET’s Role in the Pea Protein Revolution

ST Equipment & Technology LLC (STET) creates a breakthrough for the plant-based protein revolution with application across grains, oil seeds and pulses to sustainably produce innovative  food and feed ingredients. Our unique triboelectrostatic separator technology utilizes an environmentally responsible, dry, heat and chemical-free purification process suitable for plant-based meals and flours. With high processing capacity and low energy consumption, our technology provides an efficient, environmentally preferred, cost-effective solution. 

Backed by over 25 years of operational experience and the proven ability to scale up processes from lab through pilot and commercial scale, STET ensures significant economic value and a competitive edge for our global clientele. To explore how our technology can benefit your business, connect with our experts, and stay updated about our participation in upcoming tradeshows.

**This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or dietary changes. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.**