Milk alternatives from plant-based sources such as soy, rice, and almonds have been well-known for a long time. However, the use of sweet lupin beans is something relatively new to the market. Prolupin GmbH has been researching processing options for sweet lupin protein for many years, so that the positive properties of sweet lupins can be used in the best possible way.
In an interview with Roland Brandstätt, marketing director at Prolupin GmbH, we learned more about the procedure, the umbrella brand MADE WITH LUVE, and the future prospects.
What exactly does Prolupin GmbH do?
Since mid-2015, Prolupin GmbH has been marketing a range of purely herbal alternatives to dairy products in Germany and Austria under the umbrella brand MADE WITH LUVE. Our company specialises in extracting the protein of lupin beans and making it available in the form of lupin protein isolate (LPI) for the production of foodstuffs. It is a patented process for obtaining protein from the seeds of sweet lupin beans.
Sweet lupine is a native legume. Why did it fall into oblivion and how did it “rediscover” itself?
It may look like this on the outside, but our research to optimize the raw material of lupine as a protein supplier of the future goes back 25 years. For classification purposes, it might be helpful to know that Prolupin GmbH was founded in 2010 as a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging. In 2014, the scientists of the Fraunhofer IVV and the Prolupin researchers received the German Future Prize for the development of vegetable food ingredients from lupins and a contribution to a balanced diet.
So sweet lupins have never really been forgotten – at least not from our point of view.
What advantage does sweet lupine offer over other vegan raw materials such as soy?
We see domestic sweet lupins as an alternative to soy, rice, almonds and coconut and do not think much of a “better or worse” discussion. Basically, lupine protein is quite similar to milk protein and is therefore ideally suited for the production of milk product alternatives – i.e. alternatives to yogurt, desserts, cream cheese, milk and ice cream. The sweet lupine is not only adapted to domestic environmental conditions, it also makes an important contribution to sustainable agriculture. Lupins bind nitrogen in the soil and thus improve soil quality. In addition, short transport routes reduce CO2 emissions because lupins are grown and the LPI is produced in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Sweet lupine as a raw material thus stands for an advantageous environmental balance.
With MADE WITH LUVE has been on the market since 2015. How has the brand developed since it was launched?
As a startup, factors such as a stable market presence and the continuous expansion of a growing fan community currently have top priority for us. We are on the road to success and the figures prove this. Since the introduction of the umbrella brand MADE WITH LUVE in mid-2015, we have sold almost eight million LUVE products. We intend to continue this strategy of sustainable growth in 2018/19.
What sales channels are you currently using to market MADE WITH LUVE?
Our strategy is aimed at achieving a stable presence in German and Austrian food retailing. In addition, we offer our products in selected online shops.
In which vegan products are sweet lupins already used and which areas do you see as additional opportunities?
In the food industry there are many possibilities for processing the raw material sweet lupine. We use the unique sweet lupin protein to produce purely vegetable alternatives to yoghurt, cream cheese, milk, desserts and ice cream.
How do you see the market for sweet lupins as a raw material in the coming years?
Experts predict that sweet lupins can become one of the most important sources of plant protein to replace animal proteins worldwide. In Germany it is suitable for all climates and grows particularly well on sandy, nutrient-poor soils – such as those found in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is difficult to make an exact prognosis, but we see the sweet lupin as a door opener to a climate-friendly nutritional future.
In addition to yogurt, drinks, cream cheese, and ice cream, are there any other vegan product developments we can expect from you in 2019?
In 2019 we will be focusing on optimising the range, which currently comprises more than twenty articles. We regard product development as an important part of our future strategy. Based on our own customer surveys and targeted market observation, we want to serve trends and consumer wishes as quickly as possible. Examples are the reduction of sugar or new ice cream shapes.
Where do you see yourself and your company in the next five years?
Our guiding principle is: “You don’t necessarily have to be a vegan to enjoy LUVE products.” This is why we will continuously increase the availability of our products in stationary retail and even more importantly: We want to inspire consumers with the combination of enjoyment and sustainability for MADE WITH LUVE. If we succeed, we could become a strong number two in the market from the consumer’s point of view.