The Power of the Mighty Pea

Posted March 31, 2020 by Alyssa Stahr

Part of my job here at Brightly Creative is to research food and beverage trends and innovation. This is also one of my favorite tasks, as I come across new ideas that leave me saying, “Why didn’t they think of that sooner?” But, every so often I see something pop up that catches my eye, leaving me saying, “Wow, who would have thought you could do that with that?” This week’s blog, with the latter in mind, is dedicated to the old-becomes-new world of peas.

Peas are a love-them-or-hate-them vegetable. The polarizing pea is one of the tops on my personal vegetable list, and I’ll take them with or without butter, but salt and pepper are a must. My love for peas rose a few notches when I read this recent headline:  The Power of Peas: Distillery Launches World’s First ‘Climate Positive’ Gin. In a nutshell, or a pea pod if you will, a Scottish distillery is using these little green wonders as a base instead of wheat, barley or corn, for its Nadar Gin, resulting in more environmentally-friendly products “thanks to their ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere.” Peas improve soil quality and fertility because they don’t need synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, and the distillery hopes to use peas for larger carbon neutral purposes in the future. 

This took me down a pea rabbit hole that would make the Jolly Green Giant proud. I found that Swedish beverage company Sproud is seeking to make peas “the next big milk alternative protein source,” with its drink made from a base of split yellow peas. These types of peas are actually more neutral tasting, not as “grassy” as the green pea, resulting in a taste that’s closer to cow’s milk. They also are great for health and sustainability, not needing much water or fertilizer, and Sproud founder Maria Tegman told Dairy Reporter she believes the pea is “the most sustainable protein source available at the moment.” Powerful words for such a small veggie!

Food Dive also named pea protein as one of the top 5 ingredients that will impact the industry in 2020, something we’ve seen already in the first quarter with beverage innovations. Companies in the past have had to overcome the stigma of the pea’s taste, but they’re doing it in a big way not only with flavor, but with nutrients, sustainability and supply chain efforts. Nestle’s Awesome Burger and Awesome Grounds, Tyson Foods’ Raised & Rooted plant-based chicken nuggets, Danone’s Silk beverage line and Hershey’s Krave plant-based jerky are all using pea proteins as a base in their products. Further, pea protein, Food Dive reports, can be produced at a fraction of the cost compared to similar ingredients like soy — a win-win for the power of peas!

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