Functional Ingredients in Beverages: What To Know About Switching to Pea Protein

Written by Kushal Chandak
on June 25, 2024  |  7 min. read

The data doesn't lie: a recent Innova study found that 42% of consumers select protein as one of the “most important ingredients” in their food/beverage.

There's no denying it — demand for plant-based protein beverages is skyrocketing as consumers seek out nutritious and sustainable alternatives to traditional dairy and animal-based products. However, formulating protein-rich beverages that deliver on taste, texture, and functionality can be a challenge for many beverage manufacturers. That's where functional ingredients like PURIS pea protein come into play.

The Role of Functional Ingredients in Beverage Formulation

Protein beverages typically contain key functional ingredients, such as:

  • A high-quality protein source
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats (for mouthfeel)
  • Fibers (for digestive health)

They may also include the following to enhance nutritional value, taste, texture, stability, and shelf life:

  • Nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners
  • Thickeners
  • Emulsifiers
  • Flavorings
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Probiotics and antioxidants

Limitations of Traditional Protein Sources in Beverages


While traditional protein sources like whey, casein, and soy have been widely used in beverages, they also present a range of limitations that have prompted interest in alternative proteins such as pea. Solubility issues can lead to grittiness and sedimentation, while off-flavors and undesirable textures can leave the sensory experience lacking.  

Additionally, allergen concerns arise with dairy and soy-based proteins, limiting their appeal to certain consumer segments. 

Why PURIS Protein Is a Versatile Solution for Beverage Applications

We aren't just blowing smoke — PURIS pea protein offers a versatile solution for beverage applications, addressing many of the challenges associated with traditional protein sources. Derived from yellow peas, this plant-based protein boasts exceptional functional properties, making it an ideal choice for various beverage formulations. We have a solution for High Acid and Low Acid Beverages, so you don’t need to compromise on your offerings.

PURIS pea protein can also help you develop products that boast some high-demand claims, including:

  • Non-GMO
  • Plant-based
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Preservative-free
  • Soy-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Kosher
  • FDA allergen free
  • Keto approved
  • Glyphosate-free
  • Certified organic

Key Functional Beverage Properties 

A recent Innova study found that 27% of consumers seek out products with high protein content or protein sources in their sports or functional nutrition products. As functional beverages gain more traction, we'll continue to see more competition and more beverages that miss the mark in the following ways.

Solubility and Dispersibility: If you're tired of proteins giving your final product a gritty, sandy mouthfeel, PURIS pea proteins ensure a smooth and homogeneous texture in beverages without grittiness or sedimentation. 

Our VIP pea protein P2.0 gives whey protein a run for its money by delivering on creaminess and taste. Get your sample here.

Emulsification and Stability: You don't want your product to separate after mixing, much less while it's sitting on the shelf. Pea protein's emulsifying properties contribute to the stability of beverage emulsions, preventing phase separation and extending shelf life.

Cleanest Pea Protein on Market: If you think peas have a bitter, grassy taste, think again. PURIS has mastered the taste profile of pea protein to achieve a smooth, neutral mouthfeel, making it a perfect foundation for your products. With 28% of consumers stating they are willing to pay 20–30% more for a better-tasting protein product, now's the time to nail your taste profile.

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Product Viscosity: You need the flexibility to manage product viscosity by choosing the right protein. We offer proteins across viscosity ranges to give you control over designing the right product.

Light Color Profile: You want your pea protein to be a neutral base for your beverage's color profile. Pea protein comes as a light tan powder that mixes easily and doesn't impact the color of your final product.

Choosing the right protein can be daunting

If you're not sure which ingredient is right for you, contact our team so we can help you choose the best option. 

Fortifying Beverages with Pea Protein


Protein Shakes and Nutritional Drinks

28% of U.S. sports and functional nutrition consumers have increased their consumption, while 64% have maintained their consumption.

PURIS pea protein helps overcome typical challenges like grittiness and sedimentation in protein shakes and nutritional drinks. Its excellent solubility and dispersibility ensure a smooth and consistent texture, while its neutral flavor profile allows for incorporating a wide range of flavors without interference.

Dairy Alternative Beverages (Plant-Based Milks)

PURIS pea protein's emulsifying properties make it an excellent choice for formulating dairy alternative beverages, such as plant-based milks. It contributes to the stability of the emulsion, preventing separation and replicating the desired taste and mouthfeel of dairy milk.

Functional Acidic Beverages 

Traditional pea protein offerings have been focused on fortifying beverages in the low-acid segment, leaving a huge market opportunity for high-acid beverages untapped. PURIS HiLo (for high acid, low pH applications) provides 60-70% solubility < pH 4.5, making it the ideal choice for fruit-forward flavors. 

For functional beverages like energy drinks and juices (high acid), HiLo provides an easy way to boost protein content without compromising taste or texture. Its neutral flavor profile and excellent solubility ensure seamless integration into these beverage formulations, enhancing their nutritional value while maintaining a desirable mouthfeel.

Formulation Considerations and Best Practices

When formulating beverages with PURIS pea protein, it's important to keep in mind that pea protein requires a few special considerations that differ from other common types of protein, including:

  • pH: Monitoring the pH of the formulation is critical. A pH range of 6.8–8.0 is recommended for neutral/low-acid products to support protein stability and organoleptics.
  • Temperature: Heating has been shown to improve the solubility of our pea proteins. Higher water temperatures (140°F and above) facilitate faster hydration of pea protein and will also help with food safety. 
  • Shear: Adequate mixing shear is crucial for proper protein hydration and dispersion, preventing clumping and fish-eye formation. True hydration occurs post-homogenization. Using a homogenizer with two stages is critical to hitting the optimal beverage mouthfeel.
  • Time: Depending on your equipment and formulation, allow 5–10 minutes for the pea protein to hydrate completely.
  • Foam and agitation: Monitoring agitation and foam levels during processing can help ensure consistent product quality and minimize processing headaches. Adding a defoaming agent can reduce this challenge in beverage formulations.
  • Order of addition: Generally, we recommend hydrating the gum first and then adding protein. For post-protein hydration, we recommend adding ingredients such as fats, fibers, flavors, buffers, etc.
  • Phosphate buffers: We recommend using disodium or dipotassium phosphate to maintain the product's buffer through shelf life and inhibit protein gelation.
  • Viscosity: Measure the viscosity of the beverage after mixing and post-processing to understand any changes in fluid properties.
  • Ingredients: Monitoring the use of stabilizers (e.g., gellan gum, guar, xanthan) is very important, as a very slight increase in these ingredients can significantly increase product viscosity. We recommend using oils (e.g., canola, sunflower) to help with color and product creaminess.

The Future of Pea Protein in Beverages

Maybe you've had a bad taste in your mouth after your last pea protein experience. We get it.

But PURIS isn't like other pea protein manufacturers. We've spent decades working with peas, and our commitment to sustainable, North American-grown crops — and our oversight of all pea protein manufacturing — has solidified a system that brings you only the best, most trustworthy, and cleanest-tasting pea protein available.

As consumer demand for plant-based and sustainable protein sources continues to grow, now's the time to give pea protein another shot. And ongoing research and innovation in this field will likely uncover new applications and formulation techniques, further expanding the boundaries of what's possible with this versatile ingredient.

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