Roquette reinforces leadership in pea protein
24 Jul 2017 — Roquette recently announced a significant investment of €40 million (US$46.7 million) in its Vic-sur-Aisne facility in order to increase its yellow pea processing capacity and respond to a fast-growing global demand for pea protein. The expansion represents the second investment on pea protein that Roquette makes this year, after its announcement in January of a €300 million brand new site in Manitoba (Canada).
These investments add to a €40 million (US$46.7 million) invested in the Vic-sur-Aisne’s facility in 2015, and they mark a strong acceleration of the Group’s pea business line to serve an increasing global demand. Roquette has more than 40 years’ experience in researching and producing plant protein and has been a pioneer in plant-based protein specialties for Food, Nutrition and Heath markets.
The two sites in Canada and France will provide an increased offer of yellow pea protein solutions globally and also in close proximity to North American and European consumers. By 2019, the two facilities will represent a combined pea processing capacity of nearly 250,000 tons per year.
“We are active in the pea protein business as a whole, these investments reaffirm Roquette’s strategy to develop sustainable innovative specialties. Indeed the pea protein market is supported by major trends and our first target is to serve consumers looking to include more plant based proteins in their diets,” Pascal Leroy, Head of the pea protein business for Roquette tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “The investment is pretty significant; plant-based foods are going to be more commonplace in the next few years and into the future. We see a double digit growth in the number of new product launches, and I don’t see this going away.”
“There is a clear link between consumer eating behaviors, which are well-known in the market, and the fact that plant protein can be used in a lot of product applications. Its capabilities and functionalities serve various food markets such as snacks and cereals, nutrition bars, soups, sauces, pasta, biscuits, meat alternatives and it is also proving to be a valued ingredient for the consumers who look for gluten-free food, allergen-free, vegetarian food, sports and slimming and clinical nutrition,” he adds.
The pea protein market is a high growth market. The demand for plant proteins for human nutrition is strongly increasing, driven by health consciousness, new consumer habits and sustainability challenges. Flexitarian trends have led to an increased interest in this market; one of the key things which are really matching these wave of trends is the US. Leroy comments further: “The latest data has found that now in the US, flexitarians outnumber vegetarians 3 to 1 and you have marketing concepts like meatless Mondays that have really taken hold and Europe is following closely behind. In Europe, the country which is most advanced in the flexitarian world is Germany where we see the trend increasing and we are trying to keep up the pace to follow this evolution,” he continues. “Germany is really living the trend and it is a country where we have the biggest number of new products launches using plant-based proteins and, in particular, pea protein. In addition, food technology has come a long way in just the past five years and the taste of plant-based foods has closed the gap, compared to non-vegetarian alternatives. To reiterate, the trend is here to stay, with the sustainability benefits and value proposition backing this idea it has the potential to be a very successful market.”
For Roquette, the pea protein trend is expected to become even more robust. Leroy believes that the trend it is not going to slow down but accelerate instead: “We know that new innovation is on its way which is why we decided the investment was so important. Consumer expectations, lifestyle and behaviors are really going to drive this trend forward and increase the demand for pea protein,” he says.
According to Leroy, the reason for the increased capacity is to serve the fast growing market needs “With the investment in Vic-Sur-Aisne, the two sites will provide an expanded offer of yellow pea protein solutions globally and also in close proximity to North American and European consumers,” he notes. “We are also seeing an interesting approach coming from greater Asia, so we are looking to the US and Europe to lead and serve those regions.”
Meat alternatives are an area in which Leroy says is a fast growing market. Pea protein is a good source of protein with added health benefits which are appealing to more and more consumers. He adds: “Specialized nutrition (sports, weight management, clinical) is a significant part of the growth for this market. We feel that classical applications such as snacks, soups and pasta are following but the overall market and fastest growth potential is in the meat-free space, sports and clinical nutrition,” he claims.
Roquette uses a specific type of yellow pea to extract the pea protein. Leroy says: “One of our targets is that we have the largest range of products to serve different applications. We are developing this even further to meet all of the application opportunities to serve our customer needs first but also to take the lead in this space very seriously. The key is to really tailor, customize our solutions to ensure we are fulfilling all the requests of the customers. That’s where our effort to match these standards can develop so we can easily incorporate pea protein into applications and increase the content of protein in the given application.”
“We constantly develop our range of pea protein specialties to ease the incorporation of pea proteins in high-protein applications – one of the key parameters is functionality (i.e. solubility),” says Leroy.
Yellow pea protein offers many advantages to customers, consumers and farmers alike, as its production is environmentally friendly. “Peas are a sustainable crop, they are ideal for rotations, no nitrogen fertilizers, less irrigation At Roquette, we ensure traceability and sustainability to the market,” Leroy confirms.
“Our supply chain team is really active on sourcing the yellow pea protein that we need and we use a patented water-based process to obtain the pea protein. We are always working towards new protein solutions and again we will be focusing on nutrition profile, functionality and sustainability of this new protein,” he adds.
“We continue to reinforce our leadership in this area, and there is much more to come from us a company,” he claims. “We aim to work with our long-term partners to provide the right products in the right applications and we are leading this program based on consumer trends.”
Leroy concludes: “The future looks good for the yellow pea protein market. We plan to be timely and support the demand of our customers. The pea protein business is a strategic pillar that will consolidate Roquette’s leadership in offering high-value functional and sustainable nutrition solutions.”
by Elizabeth Green