By Christian Philippsen*

Demand for dairy alternative products has been on the rise in Asia Pacific as consumers have become increasingly health and environmentally conscious, coupled with the rise in disposable income in urban areas. By 2028, the region is projected to experience the fastest rate of growth in the dairy alternatives market.1

 Among dairy alternative products, plant-based milk is a progressively popular substitute for traditional cow’s milk. For instance, in Singapore, a significant 62% of consumers who have tried plant-based milk beverages consume it regularly, with 20% willing to switch their default dairy option to a plant-based alternative.2

Protein Boost with Faba Beans 

In the region, a substantial 40% of consumers expressed that having high protein levels is a key factor that influences their decision to consume plant-based milk drinks.3 Recognising this characteristic as a pivotal factor in the decision-making process, food manufacturers have a valuable opportunity to tap into the growing popularity of plant-based milk by injecting higher protein content. This can be achieved by incorporating ingredients such as BENEO’s faba bean concentrate into their plant-based milk drinks. 

Faba bean, also known as fava or broad bean, is a source of dietary fibre, protein, and starch, as well as vitamin C, folates, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc.  Additionally, BENEO’s faba bean concentrates have a 60% protein concentrate, making it a healthy and nutritious enhancement to plant-based drinks. 

Beyond their nutritional benefits, faba beans bring forth a host of textural advantages. The high solubility of faba beans creates a beautifully homogenous and stable drink with a pleasant texture and good taste, without any sediment or a sandy mouthfeel in the beverage. Moreover, this ingredient has remarkable emulsifying and foaming properties that help to create a smooth texture and flavour. These unique attributes enable food manufacturers to develop plant-based milk drinks that not only meet nutritional standards but also delight tastebuds.  

In addition to the nutritional and technical advantages, the incorporation of faba beans in plant-based milk contributes to advancing environmental sustainability in the production process. Faba beans, which are pulses, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the farm level through ways such as providing nitrogen by themselves, and subsequent plants so that nitrogen fertilisation is not necessary. BENEO’s faba beans are sourced and produced in Germany in agreement with the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and the Gold level for German farmers. Its faba bean varieties are low in antinutritional factors (ANF) and are guaranteed non-GMO. 

The amalgamation of benefits helps to sustain the demand for plant-based milk beverages, such as oat milk. The Asia-Pacific oat milk market is estimated at US$353.90 million in 2023 and is anticipated to reach US$700.75 million by 2029.4

Promoting Sustained Energy with Palatinose™ 

For enhanced nutritional value in plant-based milk products, incorporating BENEO’s Palatinose™ as a healthier carbohydrate is an excellent option. Palatinose™ (also known as isomaltulose) is a slowly, yet fully digestible, low glycaemic carbohydrate that delivers energy in a steady and sustained way. The slower, yet complete digestion and absorption of Palatinose™ is characterised by a longer lasting, steadier blood glucose response, without the significant drops in blood glucose associated with conventional higher glycaemic sugars such as sucrose or maltodextrin. The lower and more balanced blood glucose response results in less insulin release and an improved metabolic profile. 

As a low glycaemic carbohydrate, Palatinose™ promotes healthy blood glucose levels that help to manage the risks of both non-communicable and communicable diseases. Extensive scientific research has shown that adopting a carbohydrate-based diet with a lower impact on blood glucose levels reduces the risk for developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and possibly overweight and obesity. Consuming high-quality carbohydrates also improves one’s metabolic health and immune system, in turn helping the body fight against viruses. 

Furthermore, Palatinose™, which is derived from sugar beets, has a natural, mild sweet taste — making it a suitable sucrose replacer. Classified as a disaccharide, it features a unique glucose-fructose binding which takes more time to be broken down than sucrose.

The Balanced Mix 

The synergy between faba beans and Palatinose™ in plant-based milk beverages reimagines sustainability, nutrition, and innovation for the new generation of dairy alternative consumers. These two functional ingredients not only serve as nourishing alternatives to traditional components but also fulfil consumers’ desire for environmentally conscious consumption. As the demand for plant-based milk continues to grow in the region, the incorporation of innovative functional ingredients paves the way for an even more sustainable future for plant-based milk.

About the Author

Managing Director, BENEO, Asia Pacific