Israel Startup ChickP Starts Commercial Production Of Its Plant-Based Protein Isolate Ahead Of U.S. Expansion

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ChickP, the Israeli food tech behind the world’s first 90% chickpea protein isolate made with its patented technology, has announced that it has begun full-scale commercial production of its novel protein. It comes ahead of its planned expansion to the U.S., where it has forged a partnership agreement with Illinois-based food ingredient firm Socius Ingredients

ChickP has begun full commercial production of its chickpea protein isolate, revving up its capacity to 20 metric tonnes per day or 5,000 metric tonnes annually, the company announced on Tuesday (February 23). Developed by a team of scientists at the food and agriculture faculty in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, its proprietary product is concentrated non-GMO, allergen-free and phytoestrogen-free 90% chickpea protein isolate, which has been patented in Israel and is pending in Singapore, where its investor Growthwell Group is based

The isolate has the advantages of delivering a smoother texture and stronger emulsion stability than other plant-based protein ingredients on the market, while still retaining a strong nutritional profile. It can be applied in a wide variety of food and supplement applications, including dairy alternatives, baked products and gluten-free foods, as well as plant-based meat alternatives, which the Rehovot-based startup says it is targeting with its U.S. expansion plans. 

To that end, ChickP has already sealed a joint market development agreement with Socius Ingredients, a company based in Illinois that has a focus on dairy proteins for products like cheese, beverages, dressings, sauces and baked goods. Working with Socius will enable them to develop new plant-based innovations focused on the North American market, said ChickP. 

ChickP Protein (Source: ChickP)

We’re strategising with Socius to explore the many creative possibilities for producing chickpea protein-based prototypes.

Ron Klein, CEO, ChickP

“Socius has exemplary protein application expertise and, with a state-of-the-art technical center in Chicago, boasts strong connections to manufacturers of plant-based products,” explained Ron Klein, CEO of ChickP. “We’re strategising with Socius to explore the many creative possibilities for producing chickpea protein-based prototypes.”

Conor Buckley, vice president of Socius, believes that the novel chickpea protein isolate boasts multiple functional qualities that “render it an excellent candidate for integration into a full spectrum of dairy analogues, including beverages, desserts, creamers, and more.”

Another move that the Israeli food tech has made to double down on its U.S.-focused efforts includes the appointment of Itay Dana, a food veteran formerly with seed-breeding tech firm Equinom, nutraceutical ingredients company Lycored and specialty raw materials supplier Galam, to lead its sales and business development activities in the country. 

Dana believes that tapping into the exploding plant-based alternative sector in the U.S. will a timely move for ChickP, as the industry begins to look for a wider diversity of plant-based protein sources, a move that a recent nonprofit Good Food Institute (GFI) report described as key to bolster the appeal of alternative proteins to a larger consumer base. 

Growthwell plans to develop plant-based crab burgers and other analogues using ChickP (Source: Growthwell)

Food companies are demonstrating an openness to try new plant-sourced protein contenders and the mighty chickpea is now gaining its due recognition and momentum.

Itay Dana, VP Sales & Business Development, ChickP

“This market already is familiar with soy and pea proteins. However, these sources still cannot meet all the desired specifications for the broader spectrum of applications. Food companies are demonstrating an openness to try new plant-sourced protein contenders and the mighty chickpea is now gaining its due recognition and momentum,” Dana explained.

Outside of the U.S., ChickP has already firmly established its intentions to expand in Asia too, especially after the Singaporean plant-based protein company Growthwell Group acquired a stake in the company following its US$8 million financing round in April 2020. 

At the time, ChickP said that it aims to develop a number of vegan products with Growthwell using its isolate, which will be tailored to the Asian market, such as in-demand meats such as shrimp and squid, as well as a plant-based crab burger.

Klein says that its proprietary technology has begun to attract “considerable interest from major food brands” too, suggesting further international expansion plans are underway. “This month alone welcomed a number of production commitments from several new customers,” the CEO revealed. 


Lead image courtesy of ChickP.


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