The R&D Tax Credit Aspects of Plant Protein Products
There has been a
stronger desire for consumers to know more about the sources
of their ingredients. People are becoming more educated about
food and, in turn, their eating habits and diets are changing.
proteins play a huge role in human nutrition. Plants comprise
of carbon, vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids,
and energy for human food production. They are the main
harvesters of solar energy, supplying people with the majority
of their food energy intake and most of their protein
needs. Food intake rich with plant-based proteins is
beneficial to people’s health and overall well-being.
will present some of the recent and upcoming developments
being made with foods rich in plant-based proteins and how
companies must turn towards innovation to incorporate
plant-based proteins into the human diet. R&D tax credit
opportunities are available to support companies engaged in
related innovation efforts.
The Research &
Development Tax Credit
Enacted in 1981, the federal Research and
Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13
percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and
processes. Qualified research must meet the following four
Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost
of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated
with developing a patent. On December 18, 2015,
President Obama signed the bill making the R&D Tax
Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D
credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum tax and
startup businesses can utilize the credit against payroll
- New or improved products,
processes, or software
- Technological in nature
- Elimination of uncertainty
- Process of experimentation
The Importance of
Proteins are a main source of energy
for our bodies. They are crucial for healthy growth, as they
serve as building blocks for our cells. Proteins are found in
every single cell in the human body. Proteins affect people’s
skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, hair, and nails. Proteins
help form enzymes, hormones, antibodies and new tissues. They
replace old cells with new ones which carry important
nutrients in and out of those cells.
Proteins are made
up of strings of molecules called amino acids. Amino acids are
the building blocks of muscle, body tissue, the immune system,
and hormones in the body. Of the 20 amino acids that
make up nutritional proteins, 9 are considered “essential”.
This means that the body cannot produce these essential amino
acids on its own, so they must be consumed through food.
Eating a diet rich of plant-based proteins can help people get
the proper nutrition their bodies need.
Most foods contain
small amounts of the 20 amino acids. Yet, they are only
considered to be “complete” if each of the 9 essential amino
acids are provided. Complete proteins help support bodily
functions and keep people healthy.
Examples of Plant-Based Complete
a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino
acids. Therefore, it has been a long standing ingredient in
vegetarian diets. Besides being a source of complete protein,
soybeans have also been shown to reduce cholesterol, help
prevent prostate cancer, and even fight osteoporosis.
Tofu, soy milk, and a wide variety of meat and dairy
substitutes are derived from the soybean. Many companies are
moving towards non-GMO (genetically modified organisms)
soybeans for their products, as scientists and consumer and
environmental groups have cited many health and environmental
risks with foods containing GMOs. Simply look for the non-GMO
Project verified soybean products and enjoy the health
benefits they provide.
Buckwheat, contrary to what its name sounds like, is actually
not a type of wheat at all. It is related to the rhubarb
plant. It is gluten-free. Studies have shown that have shown
that it may improve circulation, lower blood cholesterol and
control blood glucose levels.
is a popular healthy complete protein that is and a good
source of calcium, iron, fiber, and phosphorous. Quinoa’s
consistency and texture is much like a combination of rice and
couscous. Some people eat it as a gluten-free alternative to
Hempseeds contain magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium. They are
also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty
acids vital to our metabolism. They can be eaten raw, ground
into a meal, sprouted, or even made into hemp milk.
Chia seeds are high in fiber, iron,
calcium, zinc, and antioxidants. They are the highest plant
source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are gluten-free and play
an important role in regulating blood sugar in the human body.
Due to their gel-like consistency when wet, some vegans use
chia seeds in puddings, smoothies, and as an egg replacement.
They can also be eaten raw.
It is not necessary, however, to eat complete proteins as long
as people are combining different plant-based protein sources.
Combining whole grains with vegetables helps vegans and
vegetarians get all essential amino acids their bodies need.
Examples of plant-based proteins are as follows:
Examples of (Incomplete)
proteins are vegan, non-GMO, non-allergen, and also have a low
environmental impact. Pea proteins are becoming increasingly
popular due to their non-GMO sourced material.
Rice protein contains all 9 essential amino acids. Rice
protein is also allergen friendly, making it a good choice for
people who have dairy, soy, and/or gluten allergies.
Beans are high in fiber, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and are
low in fat. Beans are high in antioxidants, which are a class
of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free
radicals in the body. Phytochemicals are non-nutritive
chemicals that have protective or disease preventive
properties, which are derived only from plants.
Microalgae is a microscopic form of algae
that is produced using fermentation technology. It is a source
of protein, fiber, healthy lipids, and micronutrients such as
lutein and zeaxanthin. It has a strong nutritional profile.
Additionally, microalgae are a planet-friendly, renewable
Health Strides through
A plant-based diet can be beneficial for a
person’s overall health. Plant-based diets are valuable in
adults in preventing and possibly reversing heart disease.
Obese children who begin a low-fat, plant-based diet may also
lower their risk of heart disease through improvements in
their weight, blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol
levels, and insulin sensitivity.
There are different types of plant-based diets one could
follow: vegan, lacto-vegetarian, and lacto-ovo-vegetarian:
Some people strive to follow a plant-based diet, but
occasionally eat meat, poultry, pork, or fish. They refer to
themselves as “flexitarians” or “semi-vegetarians”. A person
who refers to themselves as a "pescatarian," would eat fish in
addition to a plant-based diet. It is important that vegans
and vegetarians make sure they are eating a variety of
- No animal products of any kind
are consumed. No meat, eggs, or dairy are eaten.
- Dairy products are consumed, but
no meat or eggs are eaten.
- No meat is consumed, but dairy
products and eggs are eaten.
Dieters Getting Enough Protein?
This is probably one of the most commonly
asked questions to people following a plant-based diet.
Although protein is undoubtedly an essential nutrient which
plays many key roles in the way the human body functions,
people do not need huge quantities of it. Most Americans get
more than enough protein each day, and may even be getting too
much of this nutrient from animal sources, like meat, poultry,
and eggs. Although important in the diet, an excessive amount
of protein will not enable a person to build more muscle or
make them stronger. When a person consumes too much of it,
they likely take in more calories and fat than their body
Adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get 10% to 35% of their
day's calories from protein foods. That's about 46 grams of
protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men.
Vegetarians and vegans simply need to make sure they are
eating a variety of plant-based protein products to get the
proper amount they need. Companies, such as the ones discussed
below, continue to innovate by incorporating plant-based
proteins into their food products. This innovation may enable
them to be eligible for R&D tax credits.
Meat consumption has been declining in the
United States, and more and more people have been gravitating
towards plant-based protein alternatives. R&D teams have
been working to create plant-based protein products with taste
and textural properties of animal products such as beef and
chicken. Americans are starting to understand that meatless,
plant-based protein products are a great source of protein,
and can be delicious too.
Food scientists have been using new innovative techniques and
cooking processes to develop plant-based protein products that
behave like animal proteins. Developers of plant-based
products are getting down to the molecular level to build
burger and chicken alternatives that taste and, texturally,
feel like meat. With the emergence of plant ingredients now
available combined with current technology, plant-based
products are becoming more prevalent in local supermarkets.
new plant-protein based company, Beyond Meat Inc., located in
Manhattan Beach, California, is striving to redefine what meat
is. Founder of the company, Ethan Brown, thinks of his
protein-based products as real meat. Although meat is
typically defined as food derived from an animal, Brown thinks
his type of meat is better than animal protein varieties,
which the term “meat” has been traditionally applied.
Beyond Meat’s products are made using a proprietary extrusion
process developed by University of Missouri professor Fu-hung
Hseih. They use a gentle cooking process to create the
plant-base products, where they use steam, pressure, and heat
to partially cook the proteins. This way, the proteins unfold
in a controlled way and then are cooled in a controlled way,
causing the proteins to integrate and fold upon each other.
This delicate process creates moisture and a distinct texture
to mimic that of traditional animal meat.
Beyond Meat’s R&D vice president, Tim Geistlinger, argues
that “…animal meat and plant meat are one and the same.
They’re all constructed of proteins, fats, nucleic acids,
carbohydrates. All of these things exist in living things, and
plants are living. Animals are living…” From an R&D
perspective, it’s a matter of reconstructing what animal meat
is and developing plant-protein based meats to be similar in
terms of density, structure, and fiber. Beyond Meat believes
that they are making real meat, it is just coming from plants
instead of animals.
They have also created a new burger, called the Beast Burger,
formulated from a mixture of plant-proteins including pea,
moringa, and hydrilla. This Beast Burger has a high
nutritional value, having more omega-3s than a serving of
salmon, more calcium than a glass of milk, more iron than a
serving of steak, more protein than a beef burger, and more
antioxidants than a serving of blueberries.
Impossible Foods, another California-based entrepreneurial
venture, is working to perfect the taste of a plant-based
burger. They want to make it so authentic that it “bleeds”
like a real burger. They extracted roots from legumes to mimic
the blood effect from a rare burger. Scientists from
Impossible Foods bioengineered from the heme protein molecule
found in hemoglobin. This is the compound in animal blood that
gives animal red meat its classic “meaty” taste. Impossible
Foods is looking to have this burger available in stores by
the end of 2015, however, the challenge of its high production
cost may result n a later date.
Plant-based proteins can also be consumed through powder form.
Some people prefer the powders, so they can control the amount
of protein they ingest and what other foods they choose to
combine it with. Some examples are as follows:
Quest Nutrition LLC, located in El Segundo, California, has
several plant-based protein products coming to market. They
have a new Brown Rice Powder, Coconut Oil Powder, and MCT Oil
Powder which serve as protein sources for vegan and vegetarian
diets. The Rice Powder is high in fiber, iron, manganese,
magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin B. It also is an
attractive option for people with gluten intolerances.
The Coconut Oil Powder and their MCT Oil Powder both contain
essential fats for the human body. MCT provides the same
feeling of satiety that standard fats do, but without the
Nature’s Food 100% Plant-Based Protein Powder is allergy
friendly, being that it is vegan, non-GMO, soy-free,
gluten-free, and lactose-free. It is formulated without any
preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or
cholesterol. It contains essential amino acids, as it contains
organic rice protein, organic alfalfa, and organic inulin.
The food industry must be able to adapt to
ever-evolving personal eating habits. The ability to innovate,
creating new products and processes, is key for obtaining
federal and state R&D tax credits that are available to
support companies that utilize plant-based proteins in their