Inside the Plant Protein Space: Q&A with KeyLeaf’s Justin White (Part 2 of 2)

In the second part of our Q&A series, Justin White, Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development for plant-based ingredient supplier KeyLeaf Life Sciences, fields a few questions and gives an insider’s account of current market trends, drivers, and what the future holds in the burgeoning plant-based protein space    

Q: How do you rate the overall quality of the plant-based protein ingredients and finished goods now in the marketplace?


JW:  There is a continual drive to improve upon what ingredients are out there. The companies are taking the established proteins, like pea and soy, and refining them further, trying to find new functionalities. Some of the things we do might not appear to be innovative, but rather they are refinements of existing products to make them better.   Whether you’re a big or small player, you’re going to try to gain a marketing edge with      innovations and new iterations to your existing product line resulting in incremental innovation.


Q: What other insights into the alternative protein space can you share?


JW:  Because some food applications are more popular than others, there is a plethora of companies rushing into the marketplace offering more of the same, like meatless burgers and chicken-less nuggets. I would advise the product development teams to think outside the universe of burgers and nuggets and diversify into other applications where the field is not so crowded. Companies need to find niche categories that aren’t dominated by the larger companies. There’s still a lot of discovery, exploration, and ingenuity that can be applied to the plant protein space.      


Q; What are some of those unexplored categories?


JW:  I think everybody needs to do their own market research on the activity and understand the competitive landscapes in these categories, and be innovative, creative, and find a news pace that’s untapped for great market positioning.      .


Q: Any final comments or observations you’d like to make?


JW:  I’d like to give a plug to Canada. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there for individuals and companies who want to develop plant-based ingredients. It’s a very supportive environment, and it’s been that way for decades. There’s not only funding, but there is deep agricultural infrastructure. Providing the population there with healthy alternative proteins is deemed critical to maintaining the general welfare and is an integral part of the nation’s natural health and wellness strategy.


Q: How can KeyLeaf help companies and startups succeed in the plant-based protein space?


JW:  They can look to KeyLeaf to help facilitate their process by providing bench top modeling, ideation, market insights, innovation and a brain trust of thought leaders in the industry that can help them from concept to scale up to commercialization – all of which can get them to market faster. KeyLeaf’s team loves to collaborate and co-create with their clients.  It’s not as though companies have to do it all in-house and on their own. Some of the things they want to do may not be as novel as they think, so it doesn’t hurt to reach out to somebody who might be able to assist them to solve their production or processing concerns to better reach their goals. We’re here to help and we invite anyone to have a free consultation with us to learn more about what KeyLeaf has to offer.        

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