ChickP Taps into the Dairy Alternative Market
Next-gen chickpea proteins designed specifically for plant-based milk and yogurt analogs
ChickP Ltd., a foodTech startup developing innovative plant proteins, launches a line of next-gen chickpea isolates especially designed for plant-based dairy alternative products. This ground-breaking plant protein, developed by the faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, uses patent-pending technology to extract up to 90% pure protein out of the chickpea seed.
Global launches of dairy alternative products are triple the rate of new food and beverage launches overall, according to Innova Market Insights. The research group noted a 22% CGR for the period from 2014-2018. Europe is leading the dairy alternative drinks market in terms of launches, accounting for 38% of dairy alternative drink launches tracked globally in 2018.
The new chickpea isolates offer exceptional beneficial characteristics that help alternative dairy producers overcome challenges in processing as well as boosting consumer acceptance and fulfilling the demand for highly nutritious and tasty products. Thanks to its high solubility and smooth viscosity, ChickP forms an emulsion/gel that helps contribute to a firm finished product.
“We tested the chickpea ingredient across a range of parameters, including functionality, flavor, nutrition profile, and protein content,” says Ram Reifen, MD, founder and CSO of ChickP. “Sensory parameters such as taste, color, and texture are the key factors for success in launching any new product in the marketplace. Plant-based milk alternatives that contain ChickP have been shown to mimic cow’s milk and yogurt better for taste, mouthfeel, and nutritional value.”
Taste: While most plant-based proteins can create bitter or off flavors that require masking by addition of sugar, artificial flavors, or other masking agents in the final product, ChickP protein has a neutral flavor, mitigating the need for sugar or flavor additives in the products.
Texture & functionality: plant-based proteins often possess sandy or chalky textures that negatively affect the overall sensory experience. Most dairy alternative consumers in the US consume these products in cereal, smoothies, and coffee. These applications require a protein ingredient that creates a smooth mouthfeel and does not curdle when heated — characteristics often lacking in most plant protein dairy alternatives. ChickP protein was designed to provide a strong, smooth texture and emulsion stability, while having high solubility and smooth viscosity.
Nutritional profile: The nutritional content of dairy alternatives is usually lower than that cow’s milk when it comes to protein, and can also contain lower contents of other essential nutrients and are higher in sugar. ChickP powder contains 90% protein, ?8.0 moisture (the drier the better), and less than 0.1% fat. The very low fat is important since high fat content decreases shelf life and can lead to off flavors.
Cleaner, shorter label: Dairy alternative products can contain artificial flavors, coloring, emulsifiers, masking ingredients, and other additives that help them mimic dairy. By mitigating the use of such ingredients, ChickP protein allows for shorter, cleaner labels.
Free-From: Dairy, soy, and tree nuts — the most common milk and milk alternative sources — are known allergens. Also, in some populations as many as 50% of consumers have lactose-intolerance. Chickpeas allergies are exceedingly rare and ChickP proteins are non-GMO, and does not contain phytoestrogens.
Ram Reifen, ChickP’s founder, is a pediatric gastroenterologist and a professor of human nutrition, as well as the director of the Center for Nutrigenomics and Functional Foods at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He has devoted years of research to the whole chickpea and to fighting malnutrition in children and mothers. He has served as a committee member for WHO and the European Union on issues related to food, nutrition, and health. Throughout years of basic and applicative research, Reifen led multiple studies involving chickpea cultivation, formulation of chickpea-based weaning foods in developing countries, as well as immunological studies related to the legume. He applies his strong scientific background in health, nutrition, environment, and food-tech to continue research toward alleviating malnutrition and contributing to better nutrition and health for children and their parents.
“We scaled up our processing production in October 2019 and we are set to market the ingredient to alternative dairy companies as well as to dairy companies that are seeking high-quality protein options,” adds Ron Klein, CEO of ChickP. “ChickP answers the current market needs for safe and nutritious dairy products without flavors, sugars, colorants, or artificial ingredients, while addressing environmental and ethical concerns.”
ChickP was founded in 2016 on the basis of a patented technology developed after 20 years of research conducted at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Yissum, the TT company of the Hebrew University, invested in the process via the Agrinnovation Fund, and supported the establishment of ChickP in 2016 as part of its activities. The company developed and manufactured its products in pilot scale in various plants. The company has begun scale-up operations and is producing several types of chickpea isolates.