Israel-based food tech start-up, ChickP Protein, Ltd., has developed a chickpea isolate that can be used in making plant-based cheese.
ChickP says its prototypes for chickpea-based cream cheese and firm cheddar cheese match the appearance and flavor of conventional cheese.
“Flexitarians dominate the consumer market for dairy alternatives,” Liat Lachish Levy, CEO of ChickP, said in a statement. “They are eager to eat vegan alternatives as long as those alternatives can level up to real dairy’s sensory and nutritional attributes. These are precisely the gaps the industry is striving to close. While some cheese analog producers succeed on the sensory points, this often comes at the expense of the desired nutritional balance — and vice versa.”
ChickP’s formula includes a high-functioning chickpea isolate with a 90 percent whole protein composition, providing a nutritional boost to plant-based food applications. The isolate is also a clean-label ingredient, with a neutral flavor, which the company says makes it highly versatile.
The new cream cheese formulation combines the isolate along with other simple ingredients and traditional cheesemaking processes that ChickP says make the resulting product naturally replete with probiotic benefits. The company says emmental, parmesan, and mozzarella are in the works.
“We insisted on applying only traditional processes for our winning cheese analogs,” explains Maor Dahan, application manager for ChickP. “Our formulas contain no stabilizers or gums. We explored a range of cultures to find the strains that work best with our formula. On top of that, the synergy between the chickpea isolates and starch helped create a rich, smooth, creamy textured spread on par with real dairy cream cheese and awards hearty complete protein fulfillment.”
Demand for dairy-free cheese
ChickP says a Smart Protein Project survey conducted across ten countries found cheese is increasingly popular with individual consumption averaging from one to six times per week.
The findings show there is also strong interest in plant-based versions, but consumers say taste, texture, and value of products currently on the market don’t meet their expectations. Still, demand for plant-based cheese is expected to reach $7 billion by the end of 2030.
The cheese debut follows ChickP’s chickpea ice cream prototype released late last year, a chickpea creamer prototype launched last summer, and an $8 million Series A funding round last January.