- InnovoPro, an Israel-based food technology company, raised $4.25 million in a funding round led by Migros, Switzerland's largest retailer, and Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners, Food Ingredients First reported.
- The company plans to use the money to increase production, support sales and expand into strategic global markets with its 70% protein concentrate sourced from chickpeas. InnovoPro's protein product is free of gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar and soy. It is also non-GMO, has no phytoestrogens and is not listed as an allergen, according to Bakery & Snacks.
- InnovoPro's prototype products from chickpea protein have been developed for various applications, such as dairy alternatives and snacks. The company hopes to launch its first chickpea protein-based products in 2019.
The Israeli company has already developed the initial technology that enables the extraction of 70% protein concentrate from chickpeas, which it has used in prototypes for snacks, dairy alternatives, meat analogues and mayonnaise.
This funding comes as the popularity of chickpeas has grown in recent years, in large part because the unassuming legume is adaptable to such a wide range of foods. Besides its most well-known use as the main ingredient in hummus, chickpeas have been included in chips, Hippeas organic chickpea puffs, chickpea flour and even craft mustard, with more applications coming.
While it's on-trend and plant-based, chickpea protein can be used in a variety of applications. It behaves differently and therefore can provide more functions as an ingredient, InnovaPro CEO Taly Nechushtan told Bakery and Snacks. These include acting as an emulsifier and foaming agent in products that don't contain eggs, oil or gluten — and conveying an airy and lightweight texture.
While the plant-based protein market is projected at about $40 billion today, according to Food Ingredients First, InnovoPro is looking beyond just that segment for greater opportunities. That means focusing on the $900 billion U.S. market in meat, fish and poultry, where protein-rich products made from chickpeas may find another innovative niche.
Chickpeas also have an impressive nutritional profile, containing protein, fiber, folate, iron, phosphorus, copper and manganese. These traits attract consumers interested in better-for-you products containing protein, vitamins and minerals — and which also are low in fat, tasty and different than the usual food products on the market.
Consumption of the legume also conveys functional health-related benefits, including increasing satiety, boosting digestion, keeping blood sugar levels stable and increasing protection against heart disease. Given this wellness pedigree and its superfood status, chickpeas could be the next big ingredient for those who want to take advantage of its impressive array of assets.