Soy Protein Delivers on Nutrition, Quality & Sustainability
The Plant-Based Protein Debate
A webinar by U.S. Soy & Qualisoy® titled “The Plant-Based Protein Debate: What Consumers Want,” and hosted by Global Food Forums, provided detailed information on consumers’ increasingly focused drive toward plant-protein, and the reasons why soy protein tops the list of the type of protein desired. Presenters included Debora Scott, MBA, Market Research Expert, Illuminate and Michelle Braun, Ph.D., Global Protein Scientific Affairs Lead DuPont Nutrition & BioSciences.
Scott began by revealing the results of the USB Plant-Based Protein Study of April 2020, the goals of which included quantifying the size of the plant-based consumer market; assessing consumer interest in plant-based protein type; consumer perception of soy protein; and influence of marketing language on purchase intent. The target market included U.S. consumers age 16-49 and consumers of plant-based foods who consumed equal to or more than that consumed a few years ago.
Research showed the top three plant-based items consumed during the month prior to the survey included a non-dairy beverage, meal replacement/protein bar and/or a meat alternative, as reported by 59% of respondents. Interestingly, noted Scott, 71% reported having eaten the non-meat burger, the Impossible™ Burger, while 89% said they would eat one again—taste being the top reason for repurchasing intent.
Top rated reasons for consuming plant-based foods included health and nutrition, protein quality (i.e., 88% said consuming a complete plant-based protein is important) and sustainability. So, how does soy protein, specifically, factor into consumers’ drive toward plant-based protein? Two-thirds (66%) of respondents rated soy favorable, counting soy’s health benefits, protein quality, taste and use in meat alternatives as positive factors, noted Scott.
Study results showed potential consumer marketing language is of interest to consumers. Examples of marketing language include situations where labels emphasize soy protein quality associated with heart health; reveal soy protein is a sustainable, complete protein; state that soy protein is among the highest quality vs. other plant-based proteins; and indicate soy is grown by U.S. farmers. Click here to see how Soy Protein Supports Many Aspects of Health throughout the Lifespan
Soy Protein: Functionality and Nutrition
Braun presented the technical aspects of soy and ways in which soy-based products are meeting consumer demand for high quality, sustainable and functional protein. Soy protein exists in many forms offering versatility for product developers as well as a range of functionalities. The soybean itself is about 36% protein. Soy protein concentrate (SPC) (≥65%-<90% protein) and soy protein isolate (SPI) (≥90% protein) are designed to deliver application-specific functionality for beverages (e.g., dry, RTD, spray dried); extrusion (e.g., snacks); meat/poultry & meat-free products; and general protein fortification, explained Braun. SPI has the same amino acid composition as the native soybean itself and is the most flavor neutral & versatile among the soy ingredients, explained Braun.
Protein Extruded Crisps or Nuggets (55-90% protein) add crispy, crunchy texture to nutrition bars, cereals & snacks. Textured Soy Protein Concentrate (~70% protein) in flakes, granules, & crumbles are used in ground meat, poultry & meat-free applications. Structured Vegetable Protein (~58-71% protein) produces a whole muscle-like texture for shreds, chunks or strip meat & meat-free applications.
Protein quality is measured via the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) method1. PDCAAS is the globally recognized method for determining protein quality based on essential amino acid profile and digestibility. Soy protein, a complete protein, has a PDCAAS of 1.0—the highest possible score—comparable to that of milk (casein) and egg white. Soy also has the highest PDCAAS value among plant-based proteins, having no deficient amino acids, says Braun.
Given the importance of sustainability to consumers, Dupont Nutrition and BioSciences has made efforts to demonstrate how its soy protein meets such a standard. Click here to view the summarized results of Dupont’s sustainability assessment of ISP.
Braun also provided additional metrics showing how consumption of soy protein can have a significant environmental impact. As an example, she described the effect of what she termed “Meatless Monday”—where if everyone in the U.S. consumed soy protein instead of beef every Monday, 50 million tons of CO2 could be saved every year. This is an equivalent of taking 11 million cars off the street, she added. This shows the magnitude of what can be achieved, but Braun cautioned that this is not meant to be a scientific representation, as food preparation and food waste were not considered. She provided additional visual representations of sustainability associated with soy protein. Refer to the link below to access her presentation for more detail.
Consumers are demanding higher quality plant-based protein that provide nutritional and functional benefits. It’s apparent that soy, a complete protein, fits the bill.
1 PDCAAS is based on the principle that the nutritive value of a protein depends on its ability to provide amino acids in adequate amounts to meet the requirements of children and adults. (Protein Quality Evaluation Report published as FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 51, Rome, 1991)
Click here to view the presentation post: [Webinar] The Plant-Based Protein Debate: What Consumers Want Presentation
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