Diverse dairy alternatives: Start-up develops chickpea proteins for plant-based milk and yogurt
19 Nov 2019 --- ChickP, an Israeli food tech start-up developing innovative plant proteins, has launched a line of “next-generation” chickpea isolates especially designed for plant-based dairy alternative products. The isolates are hailed as ground-breaking plant proteins developed in collaboration with the faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The company specializes in patent-pending technology that extracts up to 90 percent 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 percent CAGR for the period from 2014 to 2018. Europe is leading the dairy alternative drinks market in terms of launches, accounting for 38 percent of dairy alternative beverage launches tracked globally in 2018, according to the market researcher.
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, Founder and CSO of ChickP.
Reifen has devoted years of research to the whole chickpea and to fighting malnutrition in children and mothers. He has led several studies involving chickpea cultivation, formulation of chickpea-based weaning foods in developing countries, as well as immunological studies related to the legume.
“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,” he explains.
“We are extracting chickpea protein that is used as an ingredient in diverse applications such as plant-based milk; we are not producing chickpea milk itself,” Reifen tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“In any case, the challenges in extracting the chickpea protein is to overcome the bitter taste that plan-based proteins usually have. Our patented technology enables us to produce high-protein, functional with neutral taste protein powder,” he adds.
According to Ron Klein, CEO of ChickP, this “has the potential to become popular because it can be used as an ingredient for the purpose of protein fortification of products without compromising on taste.”
High protein without the need for artificial additives
There is need to add sugar to mask the taste of the protein, Klein notes. “Thus, plant-based milk containing our ChickP protein is beneficial nutrition-wise, because it contains high protein without having to add artificial flavors/sugars.”
The protein powder can be used to produce diverse dairy alternatives applications such as beverages, yogurt, soft cheese, etc.
Speaking further on the opportunities to combine this with other plant milk to create a “complete” nutritional offering, Klein says the idea that plant-based foods must be combined is outdated. “Today's position is that protein from a variety of plant foods eaten during the course of a day supplies enough of all essential amino acids when caloric requirements are met,” he says.
The company highlights the following attributes contributing to ChickP protein’s functionalities:
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, notes the company.
Texture and functionality: Plant-based proteins often possess sandy or chalky textures that negatively affect the overall sensory experience. Most 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. 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 percent protein, ≤8.0 moisture (“the drier the better”), and less than 0.1 percent fat. The very low fat is important since high fat content decreases shelf life and can lead to off flavors.
Cleaner, shorter labels: Dairy alternative products can contain artificial flavors, colorings, 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. Chickpeas allergies are exceedingly rare and ChickP proteins are non-GMO, and do not contain phytoestrogens.
“We scaled up our processing production in October 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,” he concludes.
By Elizabeth Green
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