flavourless pea protein alternative to imported soya

Currently peas are not used as a protein source in human foods as they taint the taste; but it could a significant market, as the UK imports half a million tonnes of soya for manufacturing vegan and vegetarian food products every year.

The flavourless pea project, funded through the Farming Innovation Programme, aims to replace imported soya with UK protein crops, meet market demand for taste and functionality and grow the soya alternative sustainably.

Peas are suited to the UK climate, and boost soil health by fixing free nitrogen from the air in nodules in their roots providing a source of bioavailable nitrogen for the next crop; reducing the need for bagged fertiliser.

The John Innes Centre has a programme for increasing the use of peas, beans and pulses in UK farming and diet. The gene for the flavourless pea was first identified in the 1990s by scientists including Professor Claire Domoney, however the research was stopped. At the time there was no use for it, now it could be the basis of a new industry.

Robust testing at farm level will ensure that only the varieties that meet market demands and the agronomic requirements of UK farmers will be commercially progressed. The project will be a positive step forward in the drive to find tailored solutions for the food industry that consider both the climate and consumer.


To better understand the UK market opportunity for peas and to create a roadmap for increasing the quality and quantity of the crop, individuals from across the value-chain were brought together in 2019 to participate in a workshop, ‘Powering Pea Productivity’, co-ordinated by the John Innes Centre with support from PGRO and Agri-TechE and sponsored by the BBSRC. Read the resulting report here.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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