Plant-Based Proteins For Sports Nutrition

Food Marketing & Technology - India|June 2020

Plant-Based Proteins For Sports Nutrition
Using Flavor Pairing to Solve Taste Challenges
Chris Whiting

Plant protein is a growing market representing 16% of all new product launches in the sport nutrition category (Innova, 2018) and the global plant-based protein market is estimated to have been valued at USD 18.5 billion in 2019 and is likely to reach USD 40.6 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 14%. [1] According to data from Mintel, the importance of flavor is a key purchase driver – over 75% of consumers are influenced by flavor choice when purchasing a sports nutrition product – so creating innovative flavors for this market must remain a priority for any brand looking to thrive.

All types of proteins can have taste challenges, making flavor and application expertise critical for success in the nutrition category. This is where Synergy’s expertise in flavoring nutrition products comes to the fore, thanks to the shared knowledge with its parent company, whey protein expert, Carbery. Understanding and masking the potential volatile ‘off-flavors’ of different protein bases is vital to delivering a superior sports nutrition product that meets consumer expectations.

Emerging plant-based protein alternatives for sports nutrition include hemp, pea, brown rice and pumpkin seed, all of which have their own flavor profile that can impact final products. Synergy is involved in ongoing research to understand the off notes of plant-based proteins using a combination of gas chromatographymass spectrometry (GCMS), gas chromatography olfactometry (GCO) and sensory analysis. Using these methods, Synergy’s flavor experts can identify the volatile compounds present, which helps to then pair the protein base with compatible flavors that are suitable for sports nutrition products.


Firstly, descriptive analysis is used, in which trained panellists agree flavor descriptors and individually rate different protein bases using the descriptor scales to generate an average score for each product.


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June 2020