The versatile pea is an ingredient in meat alternatives, baked goods, pastas, milks, and more these days.
Peas have been growing in popularity due to their protein and fiber content as well as other marketable qualities. The pea protein market alone will triple in size to $300 million by 2025, per Grand View Research.
French grain specialist Roquette has said it will invest $550 million in pea protein over the next five years, per Food Business News. The largest pea producer in the U.S., Puris, recently got a $75 million investment from Cargill.
Why are food manufacturers utilizing an ingredient that was once relegated to a shelf in the freezer until needed for icing pains and injuries? Well, many consumers are more health oriented today than ever before, so incorporating plant-based protein and fiber in diets is a top priority for them.
Nutritionally, although pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids, its methionine content is too low for the legume to be a sole protein source. Luckily, cereal grains such as rice and wheat have high levels of methionine.
When combined, pea and cereal grains’ amino acid levels complement each other very well. Such is the case in the most recent Beyond Burger recipe, which contains brown rice protein.
In addition to health benefits, yellow peas, the source of pea protein, require little or no fertilizer and leave the soil they are planted in rich with nutrients. And unlike soybeans, yellow peas do not require chemicals to extract their protein during production.