Soy is the undisputed ruler of the realm of plant-based protein alternatives, even 60 years after it hit the mass market.
Next is pea protein, which was introduced about 20 years ago.
Last legume to claim an alternative protein crown: chickpeas, also called chickpeas.
“Two options are not enough to meet the need to diversify nutrition and provide healthier, more sustainable choices,” says Taly Nechushtan, CEO of Israeli chickpea protein pioneer InnovoPro.
“The food and beverage world is looking for more opportunities in this in-demand and growing category,” she told ISRAEL21c, particularly amid concerns about allergies, sustainability and deforestation.
If soy is the king of alternative proteins, chickpeas are the queen of legumes, says Nechushtan.
“Chickpeas have been eaten by humans for over 3,000 years in many countries and cultures and have been valued for years as a very good source of protein and fibre. The food tech industry is now processing chickpeas into a more concentrated compound so that we can consume them in different products, not just hummus.
According to some analysts, the global chickpea protein ingredients market – including concentrates, isolates and flour – is expected to reach $737.8 million by 2025.
According to Future Market Insights, “chickpeas are a good source of protein and fiber, and they are low in fat. Hence, the growing consumption of healthy snacks is expected to create lucrative growth prospects for the chickpea market players. The demand for chickpeas is also being boosted by the growing popularity of plant-based diets,” the report states.
InnovoPro and another Israeli food technology company, ChickP, are on Market Reports World’s list of the top nine chickpea protein ingredient developers in the world.
ISRAEL21c examines how these two platforms are opening up new possibilities for food and beverage manufacturers around the world.
Next generation protein
“InnovoPro is a B2B company headquartered in Ra’anana. We have centers in Europe and the United States where we work with food and beverage customers to formulate solutions to their pain points,” says Nechushtan.
Founded in 2013, InnovoPro recently partnered with Ingredion, a global ingredient solutions provider with customers in over 120 countries, to deliver next-generation chickpea protein to the North American market.
The distribution partnership will increase the availability of chickpea protein while helping food and beverage manufacturers meet growing consumer demand for plant-based products that deliver what Nechushtan describes as “the five pillars.” durability, nutrition, taste, texture and functionality.
“Many plant-based products today have long lists of ingredients, including stabilizers and colorants. Consumers want engineered products that save them time, but they want them to be better. health. It’s a reasonable request but hard to come by,” says Nechushtan.
“We offer an all-in-one solution: functional chickpea proteins, neutral in taste, sustainable, nutritious, and which allow a ‘clean label’ offer.
In addition to InnovoPro’s first chickpea-based textured protein for meat substitutes, the company’s egg white substitute is used in 12 countries to create vegan desserts, mayonnaise, chocolate and nutritional bars, and in the US for vegan pancakes and sports supplement powders. .
“We will offer more and more solutions for more and more categories,” predicts Nechushtan.
ice cream without cow
Rehovot-based ChickP Protein, a food tech startup founded in 2016 based on 20 years of research by Hebrew University pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Ram Reifen, recently introduced a chickpea protein isolate for the plant-based ice cream.
This brings a category-specific alternative that relies on soy and coconut oils to achieve a creamy mouthfeel; and on additives such as guar gum, cellulose and modified starches to stabilize the frozen dessert and give it “capability”.
“Our ingredient ChickP Isolate meets growing consumer demand for vegan products with a dairy-like experience,” said CEO Liat Lachish Levy.
“Consumers, especially flexitarians, have become much more discerning when choosing a frozen indulgence and will not compromise on flavor or mouthfeel. When we started the project, the goal was to create non-dairy ice cream that tastes, looks and feels like real ice cream.
ChickP developed the prototype with its non-GMO protein isolate in cooperation with Vaniglia, an international premium ice cream chain headquartered in Israel.
Lachish Levy says the same ChickP isolate has many other potential applications, “such as firm and cream cheeses as well as yogurts, which typically require stabilizers.”
In addition to dairy alternatives, ChickP’s neutral-tasting protein isolate powders can be used as a base for beverages, baked goods, snacks, cereals, meat alternatives, and specialty nutritional needs such as weight loss items, functional foods and herbal supplements.
“We are currently developing over 20 plant-based applications with major food and beverage companies with our pure protein ChickP,” said Lachish Levy.
Sustainably growing chickpeas
In terms of sustainability, more and more countries are growing chickpeas.
This phenomenon is a kind of silver lining to the climate crisis cloud, Nechushtan says, as some regions that were once too cold for chickpea crops are now able to withstand it.
This is where another Israeli company has a promising stake in the chickpea revolution.
Equinom breeds new, non-GMO varieties of the plant-based food industry’s leading crops – peas and soybeans – that require minimal processing, improving taste and nutrition and reducing costs.
The company’s proprietary algorithms characterize biochemical and genomic traits in a wide range of seed varieties, enabling the development of ingredients with desirable traits (such as mild taste, light color and high protein content) for production food – without genetic modification.
Equinom recently announced a $35 million funding round intended, among other things, to advance breeding programs for additional protein source crops, including chickpea, broad bean, mung bean and cowpea.
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