Can Sustainable Proteins Feed the World?

      Plant-based proteins are nothing new in the age of clean label, plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, and the list goes on. But when we look at sourcing protein for 7.9 billion humans on this planet, rearing livestock is unsustainable and unreliable as it’s a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, overuses limited land, energy, and water resources, and promotes questionable animal welfare practices. So, it makes sense to take a closer look at developing consistent and sustainable proteins made from plant sources to address food scarcity caused by climate change, urbanization, and increased cost of living.

      By 2030, the global plant protein market value will reach $162 billion which makes up 7.7% of the global protein market, which is driven by consumer preferences for cleaner and more eco-friendly products.1 We’re familiar with soy, pea, and almond (among others) as acceptable plant protein sources; however, there’s a growing interest in hemp protein’s ability to promote satiety and improve the taste and nutritional value of foods, while maintaining a lower carbon footprint than its animal and plant protein counterparts–making it a clear-cut option as a sustainable protein choice. 

      Sustainable Proteins: V-70™ Hemp Heart Protein vs. Traditional Hemp Protein

      Traditional hemp protein (which is our Hemp Protein 50) is green in color with a grassy flavor and gritty texture ideal for bakery, pet food and brewing. Often these organoleptic characteristics can interfere with other applications, so we developed the versatile V-70™ Hemp Heart Protein.

      V-70™ Hemp Heart Protein exhibits a white color, neutral and slightly nutty flavor, and high water- and oil-holding capacity that integrates into a wide range of product applications where traditional green hemp protein is limited. Because of its neutral color and taste, V-70™ doesn’t require flavor masking or additional additives to offset color and flavor, increasing time and costs.

      Due to its excellent water and fat-containing capabilities, V-70™ offers a silky-smooth mouthfeel ideal for meal replacement and nutrition bars, and non-dairy products like yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. Plant “meats” are notoriously difficult to achieve that balance of flavor and texture. Because of its gelling capacity and fiber structure, V-70™’s properties are also ideal for meat analogues to create a firm and juicy bite that complements the texture of animal protein. 

      Hemp Protein: Part of a Flexitarian Diet

      From major fast food to niche brands, flexitarianism–a diet centered on plant foods with flexibility on animal products in moderation–is more popular than ever. A combination of nutrition, sustainability, and ethics, flexitarianism promotes a holistic dietary approach. 

      A 2022 poll found that over half of young Americans (age 24-39) identify as flexitarian with 60% saying they would reduce meat in their diet if plant-based alternatives have the same nutritional value; while 63% would switch to flexitarian if the plant-based food is more ethical.2  It’s safe to say hemp protein fits into the flexitarian lifestyle, making it an accessible, sustainable plant-based solution from anywhere between multinational to niche formulations.

      How Does Hemp Protein Promote Fullness?

      Next to carbs, fats, and alcohol, protein is one of four classes of macronutrients that provide us with most of our energy requirements. Meat is still a major source of protein in the world; however, hemp seed’s high protein, amino acid, and mineral content can serve as a plant-based solution to address satiety and taste.

      If we break down hemp seed’s makeup, we see its potential to boost the nutritional value of most formulations as it contains:

      • A balanced ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) including omega-3, omega-6, linoleic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid which can only be consumed by diet to support the immune and central nervous system
      • High in protein, including edestin (found in egg whites); (Our V-70™ contains more than 70% complete protein!)
      • All nine essential amino acids like arginine (supports heart health)
      • Essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron
      • Free from the top 8 major allergens, unlike soy and almond proteins

      Addressing Satiety with Hemp Protein

      To put it in practice, we can see how traditional hemp seed protein affects the nutritional value of bread. Bread is one of the most consumed foods in the world and a 2021 study found that wheat bread enriched with hemp seed protein showed a high content of proteins, essential amino acids, lipids, unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and minerals. Because hemp seed protein is allergen-free and highly digestible, the study found it to not only reduce appetite but also improve insulin sensitivity and help intestinal transit.3

      Another study found that wheat pasta enriched with hemp protein exhibited higher levels of protein, dietary fiber minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids—all ideal fortifying components in food production.4 Pasta that includes a 30% addition of hemp flour can be considered a high-protein and high fiber product while maintaining a satisfactory taste quality.

      Clean-label, Regulatory and Eco-friendly

      Hemp seed, hemp protein, and hemp seed oil fit the current environmental and consumer wish list: vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic, soy-free, GMO-free, plant-based, allergen-free, and a sustainable protein source. As veganism, vegetarianism, and flexitarianism continue to rise, hemp protein’s versatility can fit most clean labels.

      Hemp protein is derived from the seed of the plant and is considered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. It’s also important for formulators to know the difference between hemp seed protein and hemp heart protein. Traditional Hemp Seed Protein is made from whole hemp seeds while V-70™ Hemp Heart Protein is made from hemp hearts, the soft inner white seed that remains once the shell is removed. When the shell is removed, we’re presented with a cleaner ingredient that’s white in color instead of green without the bitter, pungent flavor that’s commonly associated with protein from whole hemp seeds.

      With more widespread education, hemp has the potential to be a sustainable agricultural crop with a high yield. Considered a tolerant and hardy annual plant, hemp can grow quickly in diverse soil conditions. Because of its deep root system that allows for more water absorption, hemp requires less water than most industrial crops like cotton. Depending on its environment (soil quality, local pests, and climate), hemp can separate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and contribute to a lower carbon footprint. 

      As we continue to pursue more sustainable methods of farming and food development, it’s important for us to consider viable ways to include protein in our diets. Hemp heart protein offers an eco-friendly, nutritious and tasty sustainable protein solution that has the potential to feed all. 

      Are you looking to improve the nutritional value of your product with V-70™? Request a meeting with our team to discuss how V-70™ Hemp Heart Protein can fit your project. Contact us here.





      1. Plant-based Foods Market to Hit $162 Billion in Next Decade, Projects Bloomberg Intelligence
      2. Over Half of Young Americans Describe Themselves As 'Flexitarian' as Plant-Based Food Popularity Explodes
      3. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Flour-Based Wheat Bread as Fortified Bakery Product
      4. Hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) enriched pasta: Physicochemical properties and quality evaluation


      Full Article by Deniz Ataman
      April 26, 2022