Seed Industry Opportunities in Alternative Proteins

Cindy Zimmerman

Demand for plant-based proteins is skyrocketing and that means seed to grow the plants being used to make alternative proteins is in high demand.

One of the first panels of the ASTA CSS & Seed Expo kicking off Monday explored the rapidly growing world of plant-based proteins and how the seed industry can help meet the increased consumer demand. Plant Based Foods Association (PDFA) president Nicole Sopko with Upton’s Naturals gave an overview of the rapid growth in the industry – 43% in the past two years – and the opportunities it creates for farmers and rural communities. “The top crops used to make plant-based ingredients are soybeans, dried peas, chick peas, oats and wheat,” said Sopko. “Our goal at the PDFA is to provide our members with increased opportunities to source their ingredients domestically.”

Ingredion Corporation, which makes ingredients for food and consumer products, is investing heavily in plant-based proteins because it is a key consumer trend right now. “We’ve been in corn protein forever, but we’re investing in pulses,” said Mark Macrander, Director, Specialty Grain Contracting & Plant Science.

Tyler Jameson with Impossible Foods gave a history of the company which was founded in 2011 and is currently sold in more than 20,000 stores worldwide. He said they really took off in 2018 when they changed their formula. “We completely switched protein source from wheat gluten to soy TVP Textured Vegetable Protein,” said Jameson. “That was entirely from our R&D team to look at what’s going to make this ground beef replacement product perform exactly like ground beef.”

Listen to opening remarks from the panel and an interview with Sopko:
ASTACSS Alternative Protein panel (34:04)

Interview with Nicole Sopko, Upton's Naturals (5:41)

2021 ASTA CSS & Seed Expo Photo Album

ASTA, Audio, plant protein, Seed, Soybean