Next Generation Food Ingredients: Microalgae and Pea Protein in Culinary and Bakery Applications

Microalgae, a proprietary ingredient, is grown under controlled systems, feeding pure, plant-based feed (sugar, minerals, vitamins and purified water); creating multiple whole food outputs containing lipids, proteins, fibers, phospholipids and micronutrients. The composition includes 45-55% healthy lipid, with no cholesterol or trans fat, and 18-22% fiber, 5-7% protein and 7-10% carbohydrates.


Chandani Perera, principal scientist for Roquette America Inc., presented information about microalgae and pea protein in a Prepared Foods’ R&D Seminar presentation titled “Next Generation Food Ingredients: Microalgae and Pea Protein in Culinary and Bakery Applications.”


Like eggs and milk, proprietary microalgae is a multi-component and multi-functional ingredient containing 19% saturated fats (palmitic and stearic) and 81% unsaturated fats—with the bulk of the fatty acids being oleic acid—and some linoleic. 


The fiber component of high-lipid microalgae absorbs water after dispersion in cold water, providing low viscosity. The starch fraction participates in the development of viscosity with proteins and fibers during the cooking process. Phospholipids in the lipid fraction provide emulsifying capabilities in water-in-oil systems, such as salad dressings.


According to Perera, “In the U.S., high-lipid microalgae is GRAS with a no objection letter received from the FDA in 2013.”

In the EU, microalgae is a food ingredient, and information for other countries is available upon request. Applications include better-for-you baked goods and gluten-free products, culinary sauces and dressings, and desserts, such as ice cream and chocolate mousse.


In gluten-free brownies, proprietary microalgae provides moistness and improved mouthfeel. In other bakery products, high-lipid microalgae results in improved softness and allergen reduction with a moist texture and less fat.


“High-protein microalgae is next,” said Perera. It contains approximately 60% protein along with fiber and healthy lipids. High-protein microalgae, which is not a major allergen produced from renewable sources, provides the  competitive advantages of being both gluten-free, GMO-free; is not a major allergen; is from renewable sources; and has a neutral taste and natural, yellow color.


Pea protein is also an environmentally friendly raw material, containing 85% protein. Pea protein has a PDCAAS of 0.87.


In general, protein induces satiety, and a high-protein diet is said to lower hunger, appetite and food consumption. Key amino acids in pea including lycine, arginine and glutamic acid; and branched-chain amino acids may be health-beneficial. The granulated powder shows good flowability, easy dispersibility and high wettability. It also shows water-binding, emulsifying and gelling properties. Pea protein gives stability in emulsified products, such as egg-free salad dressings, and holds up to 10 times its weight in water.


Other applications with pea protein include baked goods, extruded snacks, bars, pasta, soups, vegetarian products, beverages and non-dairy products. Pea protein can be labeled as “pea protein isolate” with no major allergens. It also qualifies as an alternate protein product for USDA’s National School Lunch Program.


Claims made on pea protein include gluten-free, lactose-free, non-GMO, organic-compatible, kosher and halal. Pea protein is a healthy, affordable, functional and green ingredient with a neutral taste.


“Next Generation Food Ingredients and Pea Protein in Culinary and Bakery Applications,” Chandani Perera, senior scientist, Roquette America Inc., 630-463-9431, 

—Summary By: Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor


Formulating with Collagen Peptides as a Functional Protein Source


Collagen protein is derived from animal sources, and its peptides are produced in a two-step process, which includes acid or alkaline hydrolysis, and enzymatic hydrolysis. Collagen peptides are easily absorbed and digested in the human body.


This was explained and elaborated upon by Erika Tchang, business development manager, Nitta Gelatin NA Inc., in her PF R&D Seminar Presentation titled “Formulating with Collagen Peptides as a Functional Protein Source.” 


“Collagen peptides are composed of 17-19 different amino acids, containing a uniquely high proportion of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline,” said Tchang. “Two key di-peptides found in collagen peptides, hydroxyproline-proline (PO) and hydroxyproline-glycine (OG), help increase collagen peptide bioavailablity, as well as to help activate cells in the bones, joints and skin.”


Collagen contains more than 92% protein with no carbohydrates or fat, and a minimal taste and odor. It is cold-water soluble and heat-stable, with potential applications in functional foods and beverages, supplements, nutria-cosmetics, cosmeceuticals, enteral nutrition and other medical applications.

“As mentioned above, collagen peptides contain di-peptides essential to healthy bone metabolism, regulating differentiation of osteoclasts and osteoblasts, thereby helping to maintain bone density. Joint health is promoted by stimulation of collagen synthesis in the chondrocytes, preventing joint cartilage degradation and providing building blocks for collagen in joints,” she added.


Skin benefits from collagen peptides through enhanced hyaluronic acid production by stimulation of dermal fibroblasts, resulting in improved moisture content and elasticity—and reducing formation of wrinkles.


Collagen peptides show synergy with other ingredients, such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin. Market opportunities exist in the beauty-from-within and the bone and joint categories, $3.7 billion and $3.5 billion global markets, respectively. Asia-pacific and, specifically, Japan are the largest market for beauty-from-within.


“The bone and joint market is expected to double by 2030, due to an aging population. And, 44% of consumers are interested in these types of products,” Tchang stated.


Collagen peptides can be used in high concentrations (10g per 50ml), in powders or hydrated beverages, with minimal taste or odor. They add minimal viscosity and have the ability to make a clear, shelf-stable beverage with reduced precipitation.


Tchang explained that collagen has an average pH of 5.5-6.5 and is stable in finished beverages for more than four months. Its isoelectric point is pH 8.0, at which point will cause reactions with certain negatively charged ingredients. Collagen is highly reactive and will cause some precipitation with polyphenols, glucosamine, chondroitin and xanthan gum. Reduced reactions occur by using a lower-molecular weight product.


In sports-focused protein bars, collagen peptides serve both as a protein source and an adhesive for other elements. Sucrose can be reduced, since collagen acts as a binder at 7.5%. Other applications include functional gummies, fruit snacks, chocolate, jelly sticks, medical foods, and tablet and capsule supplements.


Potential claims can be made for bone health, joint health, skin health and other benefits.


“Formulating with Collagen Peptides as a Functional Protein Source,” Erika Tchang, business development manager, Nitta Gelatin NA Inc., 919-518-6612,

—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor


Unleashing Plant Protein Power for Tasty Health


Recognizing the magnitude of conversations happening on social media, about 2.4 billion users are daily online, globally. A lot of talk is about food; food ingredients; what is good; what is bad; and what should be eaten or not eaten. On Twitter, #food and #snacking can be seen trending daily at meal and snack times. People tweet when they are hungry, so timing really does matter when trying to get media impact.

Meatless Monday, for example, has over 35,000 followers, so people are definitely paying attention to this message encouraging people to go meatless one day a week.


“Controversies always attract a lot of attention—whether about proteins, plant-based diets or anything else,” explained Rachel Cheatham, founder and CEO of Foodscape Group, LLC. 


Cheatham provided a look at where the marketing, communication and media creativity intersect with the science and product development surrounding plant-based proteins in her PF R&D Seminar Presentation: “Unleashing Plant Protein Power for Tasty Health.”


Recent IFIC surveys shows protein affects Americans’ food/beverage buying decisions. 

“Annual U.S. news rankings on trending diet books show many are tied to plant-based proteins. The idea to eat more plant-based foods, regardless of whether animal products are eliminated entirely or not, is trending very strongly,” added Cheatham.


Eating protein first thing in the morning promotes satiety throughout the day. Research has shown that consuming more grams of protein at breakfast can result in eating fewer calories throughout the day. The key though is to eat more protein earlier in the day for this “protein effect.”


While the natural trend is still desired by consumers, companies are shying away due to liability issues.

“Consumers are now concerned about sustainable food production and food waste. Alarmingly today, 40% of food in the U.S. today goes uneaten,” Cheatham pointed out. “The sustainability argument regarding the amount of energy going into feeding cattle for human food, compared with plants, also plays into the rise in demand for plant-based proteins.” But taste remains the most important factor to consumers, according to IFIC.


A variety of proteins are recommended by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to be updated this year. Seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds are all acceptable protein sources.

“When coming from whole-food sources, vegetable protein is generally less well-digested than animal protein, partly because it is encased in carbohydrate cell walls and is less bioavailable. Protein isolates, concentrates and hydrolysates digest more quickly than whole-plant protein sources, which could impact satiety levels,” Cheatham explained.


Plant-based proteins include soy, seeds (hemp, chia and sunflower), legumes, nuts, quinoa and “high protein” packaged foods. Plant protein is now mainstream and no longer only a so-called meat alternative. Soy protein is currently the dominant plant protein source, with its isolates and concentrates typically used for increasing protein. Some are now designed to be completely soluble and transparent in neutral pH beverages. 


“The FDA allowable health claim for soy protein and heart health also gives soy a big boost in consumer health awareness,” she added.


Pea protein is seen in a growing number of product launches with focus on its rich arginine content. Arginine is a precursor to creatine, appealing to the sports nutrition crowd.


What’s next? One possibility is the high-protein meal left behind after canola oil production. Microalgae is another functional protein with high digestibility and no known allergens. Edible insect proteins also offer high-quality protein, high feed conversion ratios and emit low greenhouse gases. Nearly 2,000 insect species are eaten worldwide by two billion people—mostly in developing countries, according to the FAO.


Consumers want natural, plant-based protein options. Soy is a dominant player, the only complete plant protein. Pea protein is on a steep rise, and newcomers may include canola crush, microalgae and even insects. Functionality is improving, especially in the beverage category.


“Unleashing Plant Protein Power for Tasty Health,” Rachel Cheatham, founder and CEO of Foodscape Group LLC, 312-970-0312

—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske,
Contributing Editor


Collagen Peptides: Meeting the Challenges of Functional Food Design


Collagen proteins are a family of pure proteins differing in functionality based on their processing. Collagen is partly soluble, and when heated with water, forms gelatin—which is warm water-soluble. Through a further enzymatic process, these becomes collagen peptides, which are cold


Native collagen is derived primarily from bovine and porcine hide and bone. And, as explained by Jeremey Kaufmann, director of sales–edible gelatine at Gelita, suppliers are carefully audited, and raw materials are subject to stringent quality control. Kaufmann shared his expertise during a Seminar titled “Collagen Peptides: Meeting the Challenges of Functional Food Design.”


Collagen begins as a long-chain molecule with a molecular weight of greater than 250kD. After applying heat and water, gelatin is extracted and has a molecular weight of approximately 180kD, with collagen peptides’ molecular weight typically being between 2-20kD. Collagen peptides are non-gelling, light in color, and are available in either fine or agglomerated powder. The average particle size is 100um for the fine power and 250um for the agglomerated powder. These show very good dispersibility and solubility, even in high concentrations, for low-viscosity collagen peptides.


“Collagen peptides are fat-free, cholesterol-free and carbohydrate-free, in addition to being a natural, highly digestible, non-allergenic, clean label food. They possess excellent optical, sensory and functional properties, and are easy to use in a wide range of products in the food and health and nutrition industries,” stated Kaufmann.


Collagen peptides also are used in health and nutritional products for protein enrichment, joint health, bone health, beauty-from-within and others. Delivery systems could include beverages, gummies, chews, soft pastilles, squeezers or tablets. With strong developments in the supplement and nutricosmetics market, this segment has seen much growth in the recent past.


Collagen peptides are high in conditionally essential amino acids and contain large proportions of glycine and proline/hydroxyproline. Collagen peptides can be used for protein fortification in many types of foods and in combination with other protein—such as whey, soy or pea; in blends with single amino acids for supplements; or in concentrations up to 50%, depending on the application. 


“Collagen Peptides: Meeting the Challenges of Functional Food Design,” Jeremey Kaufmann, director of sales–edible gelatine, at Gelita, Jeremey.kaufmann@, 712-943-1619 

—Summary by Elizabeth Pelofske, Contributing Editor