USA – Archer Daniels Midland Company, the American global food processing and commodities trading corporation said it was adopting novel plant protein approach to solve flavor and functionality issues in protein sourced from legumes like peas or ancient grains like quinoa.

ADM processes plant protein sourced from soy and wheat with extensive selection including highly concentrated custom proteins and whole-food ingredients.

Food manufacturers are on the verge of exploring non-meat alternatives to animal protein as a result of a shifting consumer trend to ‘healthier’ diets, but opting for plant-based protein especially from legumes has been backlashed by flavor and functionality issues.

“We have many years of experience modifying proteins based on soy and wheat and other ones, and we believe that if a customer is in need of a protein with a higher emulsification capacity or a higher solubility, we will be able to modify it,” said Dina G. Fernandez, protein ingredients specialist.

ADM said they were seeking to increase its portfolio of ingredients with a higher protein concentration, that is 50% or more protein and that protein ingredients with a lower concentrate, or less than 50%, would be grist and flour.

Fernandez said ADM may be less likely to develop ancient grain ingredients with a higher concentration of protein and besides protein, ancient grains in their whole form contain fiber and phytonutrients.

Major disadvantage of soy protein is the strong off‐flavors that is, grass and bean flavor, and the other is bitter and astringent flavor.

For pea protein, associated with unwanted green, grassy notes, processing adjustments and flavor modulators may help solve those problems and high demand for protein from these legumes has attracted investment in their processing technology.

ADM’s VegeFull line provides protein from beans but at lower protein concentrations while its Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts, an ADM subsidiary, also may be a source for plant-based proteins.

To build on this portfolio, it acquired Wild Flavors GmbH in 2014 giving ADM more expertise and flavor tools when working with plant protein.

“The functionality for the novel plant proteins has not quite achieved the level of technological maturity of the soy or wheat (proteins),” he said.

“So that’s something we’re very excited about, being able to apply our over half a century of experience in plant protein processing to novel proteins and delivering novel plant proteins, including at higher concentration levels, that have super functionality and a much cleaner taste.”

ADM said it will focus on building its supply of plant protein from such sources as pulses, quinoa and pumpkin seed.