Flavor Challenges of Plant Proteins
As any product developer who works with plant proteins can tell you, plant proteins tend to taste a lot like, well, plants. Pea, soy, rice, chia, and hemp proteins are all popular plant-based proteins with inherent off-flavors that run the gamut from beany to green to bitter. This can be especially challenging when the goal is to replace a dairy protein (like whey) with a plant-based protein.
It’s not uncommon to find flavors that worked well in dairy protein products are not effective in plant-based protein products. This is because dairy proteins deliver a more neutral taste. The slight milky taste of dairy proteins is pleasant, familiar, and pairs well with flavors like vanilla and chocolate. If a vanilla flavor was added to pea-based protein powder without first masking the pea protein, the finished product would likely have a vegetable taste.