- Israel-based food technology company InnovoPro will launch the world’s first-ever textured vegetable protein made from chickpeas this month at the SupplySide West conference in Las Vegas. The company said its pea and chickpea-based Textured Chickpea Protein will be clean label, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free and free from allergens.
- With a focus on taste and texture, InnovoPro says its protein can make healthier plant-based meat recipes that need fewer ingredients. The result, the company said, is an “unmatched neutral taste and fibrous texture that is similar to real meat.” The TVP can be used in applications including chickpea buffalo dip, burgers and nuggets.
- InnovoPro says it was the first company in the world to launch a chickpea protein, and has had substantial success. The protein ingredient was picked up by European companies, including Migros, Switzerland’s largest retail company. InnovoPro received $15 million to increase production of its chickpea ingredients in April 2020.
Not all plant-based proteins are created equal. While wheat, soy and pea reign supreme today, chickpeas are quickly gaining ground.
Chickpeas have become a star ingredient in recent years as the race to find the next best alternative protein option continues to heat up. U.S. acreage dedicated to chickpeas rose 7% from 2019 to 2021, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Last year, the ingredient made FutureBridge's list of the plant-based proteins positioned to displace more widely used protein alternatives. Chickpeas have high levels of protein, and also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. Their high fiber content may benefit people with diabetes. Chickpeas can also be used to make allergen-free products, unlike wheat, soy and nuts.
But InnovoPro is not the only one in this space. The company has competition from Israeli food tech start-up ChickP, as well as U.S.-based Nutriati and Cambridge Commodities’ ProEarth, all of whom introduced similar products to InnovoPro’s high protein ingredient. With the addition of a TVP to its portfolio, InnovoPro sets itself apart from its competitors and widens its appeal.
Textured vegetable protein is a key ingredient in many classic applications. But manufacturers continue to struggle with its taste profile, presenting a challenge for plant-based food makers seeking wider adoption of their products, according to a white paper by Kerry.
Consumers want alternative protein products to taste just like the animal-derived food they are trying to replace. InnovoPro told AgFunder News it is doing what it can to convince people that chickpeas present a solution because of their naturally neutral taste. Alternative dairy products using chickpea isolate can also offer a similar taste, mouthfeel and nutritional profile as cow's milk and yogurt, according to ChickP.
With its chickpea protein, the company has potential to grab the attention of manufacturers looking to gain a stronger foothold in the plant-based protein category, which is anticipated to make up 11% of all protein products sold and reach $290 billion in value by 2035, according to research from Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corporation. InnovoPro also has the advantage of ongoing relationships with manufacturers that it can leverage to more quickly garner buy-in for its new product.