Plant-based protein craze drives renewed interest in peanut flour

Peanut flour is 40-50% protein depending on how much fat has been removed

While peanut flour has been around for years, recent interest in protein - particularly the plant-based variety - has sparked renewed interest, particularly in the nutritional bars market, according to one leading supplier.

Although peanuts generally contain about 25% protein, peanut flour contains 40-50% protein depending on how much fat has been removed.

28% fat peanut flour delivers a more-pronounced peanut flavor, while 12% fat flour is best for high-protein, low-fat applications like nutritional and snack bars, Golden Peanut Company VP Specialty Products Bruce Kotz told FoodNavigator-USA.

“We’ve seen steady growth in peanut flour for years, but the recent interest in protein, and plant-based protein in particular, has been a key sales driver for us recently.

“Protein has become a real buzzword. People are recognizing that it fills you up, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and peanuts are a great source of plant-based protein.

“There is also a lot of interest from companies looking at protein blends, as peanut works well in combination with other proteins such as soy and whey - and it tastes a lot nicer.”

Peanut flour tastes a lot better than whey and soy protein

For example, General Mills’ new salted caramel nut protein bars contain roasted peanuts and peanut flour, as well as whey protein concentrate and soy protein isolate, he said.

“Another advantage of using high protein peanut flour in snacks, meal replacement products, nutritional bars and other products is that the price has remained fairly constant, whereas there has been a lot of volatility in whey protein prices, for example.

“We’re also seeing more confectionery and snack companies use peanut flour in coatings instead of cocoa and more bars with a peanut butter layer that also contains peanut flour. Several manufacturers are also using peanut flour in peanut butter chocolate cups to stop the oil migrating into the chocolate and increase the shelf-life.”

Peanut flour also adds flavor and aroma to baked goods and adds viscosity to marinades, sauces and dressings, he said.

Peanuts and sports nutrition

While peanut flour might seem ideal for sports nutrition products given its high protein content and broad package of nutrients, manufacturers are only just starting to explore its potential, however, said Kotz.

“Lots of bars contain peanuts and peanut ingredients such as flours, but protein drink mixes still tend to be vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or banana flavor. But we’re hoping that companies using peanut flour in nutrition bars will also start to look at incorporating it into protein shakes, smoothies and powders.

“Peanut and chocolate work really well together so there is a lot of potential there.”

12% fat or 28% fat

A wholly owned subsidiary of ADM, Golden Peanut Company is a leading supplier of raw shelled and inshell peanuts, peanut flours, peanut extracts, roasted aromatic and refined peanut oils, peanut seed, meal, hulls and fiber.

The firm, which has its corporate headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, manufactures peanut flour at a plant in Blakely.  

Its partially defatted flours are available in 12% fat or 28% fat levels in various roast colors (light, medium, dark - for a stronger flavor and aroma) and are used in everything from confectionery to baked goods and bakery mixes, dry flavor systems, seasoning blends, frostings and fillings, sauces & dressings, frozen dairy desserts and peanut spreads.

Click on the links below to read more about the latest research into peanuts and peanut applications from a three-day event in Napa Valley hosted by the Peanut Institute on May 4-6.

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