“Huge consumer appeal…” Chickpea protein in the spotlight as Ingredion invests in InnovoPro
Ingredion – which continues to expand its presence in the field of vegetable proteins, last year, the opening of a large pea processing plant in Nebraska,and the production of pulse-based concentrates and flours from peas, lentils and fava beans in Saskatchewan at Verdient Foods – said chickpeas have significant potential in the booming plant-based protein market.
“We believe this investment will unlock tremendous consumer appeal for chickpea protein concentrates,” said Michael Natale, global leader of plant-based protein platforms at Ingredion.
“InnovoPro has a strong portfolio of chickpea solutions and we are excited about the potential for new applications this will enable our customers by capitalizing on the trends shaping the food industry.”
InnovoPro – which was founded in 2013 and opened a subsidiary in the United States at the end of 2020 – started with 70% chickpea protein concentrates and has since developed a textured vegetable protein (TVP) combining chickpea and pea proteins for the meat substitutes market, and a alternative to egg white.
And there’s more to come, said CEO Taly Nechushtan: “We intend to significantly increase our growth trajectory as we transform into a chickpea ingredients platform.
She didn’t go into detail about the collaboration with Ingredion, but described the relationship as a partnership in an email to FoodNavigator-USA this morning: “We have high hopes of finding mutual ways to collaborate and the first step has been taken in the form of the investment. We look forward to future discussions with Ingredion.”
Chickpeas in background
While ground chickpea powders and flours have been on the market for some time, only a few companies have developed techniques to produce functional protein concentrates and isolates – including InnovoProand fellow Israeli ChickPand Virginia, based in the United States Nutriati – who have developed techniques to eliminate the main anti-nutritionals and preserve the qualities of the protein that make it attractive to formulators. (Learn more about Nutriati’s 5-year agreement with Tate & Lyle HERE.)
From a functional standpoint, InnovoPro’s 70% Chickpea Protein Concentrate is a “powerful emulsifier that combines water and oil, what all R&D managers are looking for; but they are also looking for a very soluble protein, especially for drinks“, Nechushtan said in a recent interview with FoodNavigator-USA.
She noted for example that it works well in low pH beverages, in which vegetable proteins such as pea can sometimes precipitate out of solution or are not able to solubilize. “Vegetable proteins in general are very sensitive to pH and you may have flakes of the product floating around in coffee for example, but we can prevent that.
Protein digestibility and nutrition
While chickpeas are not a complete protein source like soy, egg, or casein, InnovoPro Protein is a high-quality, concentrated protein source with a PDCAAS of 0.8 – at the high end scale for plant-based proteins, said Nechushtan, who took over as InnovoPro CEO in 2016.
As for the remaining 30% of the protein concentrate that is not protein, she says, “Food companies are also looking for healthy fiber, which is very nutritious and low in carbohydrates and sodium.
Neutral taste, creamy texture, clean label
From a sensory perspective, InnovoPro’s Chickpea Protein Concentrate has a neutral taste with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel (no “bean” or “earthy” taste or gritiness), which makes it particularly attractive to manufacturers of products such as plant-based milks, Nechushtan says.
You can also incorporate a significant amount into applications such as plant-based milks before taste becomes an issue, she said. “You can get at least 3% protein in a product similar to [dairy] milk [which contains around 3.3% protein] no bean flavor.”
More generally, she said, chickpea protein – which is non-GMO and non-allergenic – appeals to a wide audience. In other words, you don’t need to educate consumers about chickpeas, which are widely used in traditional foods from hummus to tahini.
Interested in plant proteins?
Order FREE FoodNavigator-USA Positive Nutrition Virtual Serieswhich offers a webinar dedicated to plant proteins:
Thursday March 24 (9am PT/12pm ET): Focus on vegetable proteins: from Pongamia to chickpeas –with Terviva, Nepra Foods, Mattson, Synthesis Capital, EverGrain, Givaudan and Roquette
Learn more and REGISTER HERE.