Challenges When Producing Plant-Based High-Protein Bars and Snacks

Consumers are increasingly interested in cleaner, healthier, sugar, and allergen-free foodstuffs and ingredients. However, at the same time, they still want tasty treats and healthy snacks such as plant-based protein bars, crackers, and extrudes.
What is Plant-Based Protein?
Typically, protein content relies on dairy, grains, and legumes such as whey, wheat, and soy, offering vital proteins but are also considered potential allergens.
Instead, the development of plant-based and gluten-free options is gaining momentum. As a result, natural substances in vegan and vegetarian foods are super-hot. Protein sources include pulses such as peas, fast-growing botanicals such as hemp, and high-quality protein-rich ancient grains.
At the same time, these plant protein sources can offer manufacturing challenges, such as dryness, powderiness, grittiness, and off-flavor taste or aftertaste profiles.
Overcoming Plant-Based Protein Challenges
Manufacturers can remedy texture and density issues using binding syrups, blending a combination of plant proteins such as pea and rice, or reducing particle size. These mixtures and production measures can help maintain a chewy thickness and soft mouthfeel. Beneficially, blending multiple plant proteins also increases nutrient profiles, especially vital in pressed protein bars.
Beyond texture, the taste is also vital.
Many plant proteins offer an earthy flavor profile, which can be neutralized or masked, then enhanced with innovative, natural plant-based flavor and aroma molecules. Selecting appropriate flavors to complement the plant protein is critical, such as pairing ‘beany’ pea proteins with nutty or chocolaty notes. Outcomes can also be kept neutral, for example, when producing a cracker.
An alternative to neutralizing or adding is to start with a neutral-tasting protein, such as wheat. However, with concerns around gluten, a better option may be almond protein, offering a mild flavor requiring little or no adjustment for off-notes. Almond also complements most formulations and applications.
Managing Combinations While Simplifying Labels
Also important is understanding how different protein sources blend and behave together, particularly regarding absorption. You can start by adding around ten percent protein to your formulation and observe the results before proceeding to the next iteration.
In addition, consumers are increasingly interested in and educated about product ingredient lists. They are looking for simpler – less processed, natural components. So, relying on fewer or just one protein source, with limited maskers or neutralizers, helps manufacturers present a cleaner and highly recognizable protein on a cleaner label, appealing to consumers. Producers can also grind almond powder very finely, creating superior smoothness and a satisfying mouthfeel.
Join the Plant-Based Evolution
While the choice of plant-based proteins is as yet limited, the portfolio of ingredients is expanding to meet increasing consumer demand and acceptance.
This growth represents an opportunity for manufacturers and bakers to ride the plant-based wave and get a jump on the future of food and beverages. Of course, this may require some fit and functionality experimentation, but the effort will pay off as healthier and plant-based eating becomes increasingly mainstream.
Enhance Neutral Taste Profiles With Advanced Biotech’s Pure Flavor Molecules
Advanced Biotech provides a comprehensive collection of natural, EU-certified plant-based flavor and aroma ingredients.
Whether vanilla, chocolate, nutty or neutral, rely on Advanced Biotech’s pure and potent ingredients to enhance flavored or neutral protein powders, dishes, snacks, or treats.
Please contact us for more information.