ChickP expands in Asia-Pacific to grow plant-based chickpea protein business
28 May 2021 --- Food-tech start-up ChickP Protein is expanding into Asia-Pacific with the launch of a new office in Singapore. The strategic move is in response to the rapidly growing demand for plant-based products in the region.
ChickP specializes in a patented and highly functional chickpea isolate that boasts a 90 percent protein content. The ingredient saw a significant demand spike in the region, which makes up more than 85 percent of chickpea consumption globally, only behind India.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst is Itay Dana, the alternative protein company’s vice president of sales and business development.
“We are working on adjusting the technical support skills for our food applications, as well as working with local distributors to develop products adapted to the local cuisine,” he remarks.
“Examples of local Asian delicacies made with our ChickP protein include kway teow [a Chinese-inspired rice noodle dish] and noodles enriched with our chickpea protein and made from our chickpea starch.”
“Other examples include tempeh and tofu chickpea – which our ChickP gives body and thickness – chickpea ice-cream, as well as fish and seafood alternatives.”
This latest move is part of ChickP’s global extension beyond the joint market development agreement with Socius Ingredients, Inc. in the US. The company also signed a contract with a distributor in South Africa, with the next step in the European market.
The new local office will include a warehouse to alleviate the logistical bottlenecks experienced throughout the pandemic era that slowed supplies to its APAC-based customers in 20 countries.
“This will shorten our product’s time to market, helping us serve our clients faster,” says Dana. “We source our chickpea in various locations in Asia, such as China and India, keeping our highest standard based on our specific and unique sourcing specifications.”
“By opening warehouses in various locations worldwide [Singapore, Israel, US and soon Europe] we are trying to reduce the long-distance flights of products, so we move large volumes to these locations to send them locally.”
ChickP recently appointed Moy Teo as the company’s business development director for Asia. Moy will be leading the venture’s business development and marketing activities and holds 20 years of experience in the food ingredient space within the Asia-Pacific region.
Health and environmental credentials
Chickpeas are tipped as a viable contender to soy against environmental and health benchmarks.
“Chickpeas have negligible amounts of phytoestrogens, while soy is abundant in these compounds,” says Dana.
Phytoestrogens are hormone-like compounds of plant origin that, under certain circumstances, may act as hormone disruptors.
“On top of that, soy protein allergy is a serious constraint,” Dana continues. “The prevalence of food allergy is constantly rising in recent years, especially in developed countries.”
“In fact, soy is one of the ‘big eight’ food allergens in the world. Chickpea seeds are not known to cause allergy symptoms, and their use in food products does not require any labeling, unlike soy.”
Asia’s craving for plant-based protein
Meat and dairy analogs are no new concepts in the Asia-Pacific region, having long traditions ranging from the use of tempeh as a meat substitute and dairy milk analogs from soy.
Meat alternatives have been particularly prominent in low socioeconomic areas where access to meat is restricted, or in regions where religious beliefs discourage it.
But over the past few months, Asia’s local food scene has been revitalized with new plant-based introductions inspiring new iterations of traditional cuisine staples.
Tokyo-based Next Meat, for instance, has unveiled vegan Japanese yakiniku grilled meat in Singapore, while peanut-based chicken from Haofood debuted in Chinese and Indonesian recipes through various partnerships in Shanghainese foodservice.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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