PepsiCo has experimented with mealworm powder for its snacks and drinks

PepsiCo — the food company that makes snacks like Doritos, Cheetos, and Quaker Oats cereal — is looking for alternative protein sources for its products.

On the open innovation site NineSights, PepsiCo recently posted a request for "new and novel protein sources for usage in their snacks and beverages."

These non-traditional proteins could include plant-based protein, mycoprotein (a protein made from mushrooms), or insect protein.

The request also mentioned that PepsiCo has already done extensive work with soy, moringa (a protein powder made from dried leaves), duckweed, cricket powder, pea protein, dairy, single cell protein, and mealworm powder (generally made from roasted and milled mealworms).

PepsiCo declined to comment on any specific plans, but spokesperson Andrea Foote said the company's R&D team is working on the project, which is not tied to any one brand.

Other food giants are also experimenting with novel types of proteins, often made from plants. In 2016, Campbell Soup Co. started selling a line of non-dairy, plant-based milk with 10 grams of pea protein per serving. Later that year, Tyson Foods, one of the world's largest meat producers, launched a venture capital fund worth $150 million that invests in startups developing meat alternatives. The VC arm of General Mills, 301 Inc., has also invested in the plant-based protein startups Beyond Meat and Kite Hill, which makes non-dairy cheeses, milks, and yogurts.

PepsiCo's request may reflect a growing consumer shift away from non-traditional protein sources. US sales of foods with alternative proteins totaled $4.9 billion in 2016, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association. The research firm Markets and Markets predicts that the meat substitutes industry will be worth $5.96 billion by 2022.

"Consumers the world over have embraced a variety of high-protein foods, such as Greek-style yogurt and beef jerky style meat products," PepsiCo's request reads. "Unfortunately, that increased level of protein in the product can negatively impact consumer perceptions by adversely impacting texture, taste, color, etc."

Ideally, PepsiCo said it would like to find a high-protein source that has a pleasant taste. Additionally, the company said the protein should be non-GMO, have "a good sustainability story," and have an "easy to pronounce and common" name that avoids "chemical-sounding ingredients."

RELATED: PepsiCo brands

PepsiCo brands
See Gallery
PepsiCo brands
Tostitos, prepared salsas, snack food
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Bottle of Gatorade are displayed on a shelf in an Associated Supermarket in New York Thursday, September 29, 2005. PepsiCo Inc., the world's No. 2 soft-drink maker, reported the biggest quarterly sales gain in 3 1/2 years as hot weather spurred demand for Gatorade sports drinks and Aquafina waters in the U.S. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 08: A bag of Fritos is displayed along with Fritos corn chips in New York Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007. PepsiCo Inc., the world's second-largest soft-drink maker, said fourth-quarter profit rose on a tax gain and overseas sales of Frito-Lay snacks. North American beverage volume had the smallest increase in six quarters. (Photo by Alicia Hansen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NILES, IL - DECEMBER 1: Cartons of Tropicana orange juice lie in a grocery store display December 1, 2004 in Niles, Illinois. Tropicana orange juice prices are expected to rise due to the hurricane-damaged citrus crop in Florida. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: Cases of Sabra Classic Hummus are viewed on the shelf of a grocery store on April 9, 2015 in New York City. Sabra Dipping Co. is recalling 30,000 cases of hummus due to possible contamination with Listeria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Bottles of PepsiCo Inc. Naked brand juice smoothies are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2015. PepsiCo Inc. is expected to report quarterly earnings on July 9, 2015. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Quaker instant oatmeal
Doritos potato chips
UNITED STATES - JULY 09: Bags of Lays potato chips sit on display in an Associated Supermarket in New York on July 9, 2007. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 16: Aquafina water seen on Day 6 of New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

NOW WATCH: 16 keyboard shortcuts only Mac power users know about

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Obama: Climate change could cause a refugee crisis that's 'unprecedented in human history'

Read Full Story