Roquette, a global leader in plant-based ingredients based in France, is best known for its work in pea protein, which as most of our readers will know has been a fast-growing market that rocketed since the early days of the Beyond Burger, influencing countless other pea protein products around the world.
Roquette has been providing plant protein to Beyond for around ten years and continues to lead the way in all things pea. We have been reporting on the company’s developments since 2018 when vegconomist was just born, and following its news ever since.
More than three years later we finally were very pleased to speak with Jeremy Burks, Senior Vice President of Plant Proteins, and Benjamin Voiry, Head of Marketing for Pea and New Proteins.
What is behind the recently announced Innovation Challenge?
Jeremy: We want to be the best partner for companies around the world who share our conviction and our growth ambition in plant-based gastronomy. Addressing key consumer needs by offering tasty and nutritious ingredients, which are convenient and environmentally friendly at the same time, is a major focus area for Roquette.
Through this challenge, we were seeking unique plant-based ideas that support this ambition, seeking innovation that can change the way we eat. NotCo won the challenge thanks to its strong understanding of consumers’ expectations combined with an innovative technology to unlock the potential of nature.
How will the plant-based market develop?
Innovation and new technology are critical to influence positive change in consumer preferences. It’s all about the experience! No matter how good it is for me or the planet, I won’t go there again if the pleasure is not there.
Food is not just fuel, it must provide pleasure and a positive experience.
Food is not just fuel, it must provide pleasure and a positive experience. So this is why innovation is key to offer new products but, as well, the possibility to have alternative plant-based protein limiting the impact on natural resources while offering the same culinary and tasty experience. A new plant-based gastronomy will emerge across the world, today meat alternatives but tomorrow traditional meals like cheesecake or bourguignon!
Why is Roquette in particular well positioned for this market?
We are uniquely positioned along the value chain to enable our customers, the food innovators, to be faster. With capabilities for yellow peas in the EU and Americas and by offering the widest range of plant-based products in the market, Roquette is the best player today to innovate and offer high-quality ingredients to its customers. We also rely on a unique network of labs across the world to deep dive consumers’ needs and demands.
To maintain and reinforce this leadership position, Roquette constantly invests (more than half a billion euros over the last five years) to ensure that the supply of plant protein is secure, safe and sustainable; for example, a new plant in Canada, a textured line in the Netherlands or a dedicated supply chain. Then, with a yellow pea-based product, we offer to consumers a crop with strong and reliable sustainability characteristics, no deforestation, non-GM, in favor of biodiversity and less water and fertilizer… those elements are key to support the growth of the plant-based market.
Roquette is the best player today to innovate and offer high-quality ingredients to its customer
What developments do you see in the plant-based meat sector?
As meat alternatives gain wider adoption the culinary scene will evolve too. Now with plant-based meats, chefs will need to adapt their cooking methods and use flavors or spices that will complement meat alternatives. They now have to modify and learn how to cook with these products to create a new gastronomy experience.
We’ll see an evolution where plant-based or alternative proteins will carve out their place in the food space, we’ll be less inclined to mask or mimic the traditional versions of foods and beverages and will instead enhance or use these new proteins in a synergistic manner that elevates the end product nutritionally and taste-wise as consumer establish familiarity with them.
Benjamin: Pea protein is still a key enabler for all these present and future developments. And as a pioneer of new plant proteins for food, nutrition and health markets, Roquette is deeply committed to developing a whole plant-based gastronomy that consumers and Chefs are seeking to explore.