It’s not easy commercializing a plant-based ingredient for human nutrition when this plant hasn’t been traditionally used for human consumption.
A search for ‘pea protein’ on Amazon returned hundreds of plant-based powder supplements. A search for ‘duckweed protein,’ on the other hand, returned live plants for use as fish feed or pond and aquarium decoration.
Despite this, Florida-based Parabel has spent approximately seven years researching and commercializing their flagship ingredient Lentein, a protein extracted from duckweed. So far, in the US, less than 10 finished products in the supplement space feature the protein, manufactured by mid to smaller brands like Clean Green Protein, Falcon Protein, and Real Source.
“Most people in the food industry have grown up or gotten to where they are today with full knowledge of products that are available,” Anthony Tiarks, CEO of Parabel, told NutraIngredients-USA.
“When you bring them something new to the table, many of them are left puzzled because they’ve never seen it. I don’t believe many of them even think it’s possible to come up with a completely new food source.”
But all the hard work may be paying off soon— the company announced Lentein’s no objections letter from the FDA for its self-affirmed GRAS status in August, which means the FDA has no objections to Parabel’s safety claims, and this can give formulators a confidence boost to use the ingredient, Tiarks said.
Already, more products with Lentein are slated to launch in the US before the end of this year by “some quite large brands,” Cecilia Wittbjer, VP of marketing at Parabel told us this week, though she couldn’t share more specifics.