This Shanghai Startup Is Making Gut-Healthy Vegan Yogurt From Chickpeas

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Wellme, a new Shanghai-based startup, is making vegan yogurt out of chickpeas. Coming out of the Big Idea Ventures accelerator program, it has set out to meet Chinese consumers’ demand for nutritious, immunity-boosting foods with their range of gut-healthy yogurts made without any dairy. 

Based out of Shanghai, Wellme is the startup behind Berrywell, a new brand of 100% plant-based yogurts that are healthier than their dairy-based counterparts, and far more sustainable. It was founded this year by Yong Liang, Dr. Hang Xiao, Sujuan Zhao. 

Unlike other brands on the market, the young food tech isn’t using soy protein. It has instead opted for a blend of chickpea protein, pea protein and coconuts. 

Berrywell uses chickpeas as one of its base ingredients. (Image: Wellme)

Chickpea protein yogurts

At the moment, Berrywell offers three yogurt flavours: Strawberry, Blueberry and Coconut. All of them are made with pea protein, chickpeas, coconut milk and natural fruit and vegetable fibre. They are 100% vegan, lactose-free and free from all the major allergens. 

Wellme also sets its yogurts apart by fermenting the range with a proprietary blend of probiotics and prebiotics, which boosts immunity, improves digestion, and contributes to a healthy gut microbiome. 

The startup says that its products are catering to the growing demographic of young and health-conscious consumers in China, who are now opting for plant-based products more than ever before. One analysis predicts that plant-based demand is set to grow 200% over the next five years. 

Berrywell’s yogurts contain a proprietary blend of prebiotics and probiotics. (Image: Wellme)

But so far, innovation has primarily focused on meat substitutes, with a number of homegrown food techs like Zhenmeat and Starfield creating replacements for popular meats like pork, beef, and chicken. 

Wellme says it is aiming to fill in the dairy gap, creating accessible, convenient, and nutritious yogurt alternatives that meet consumers’ taste preferences, while differentiating from the mainly soy-based products that exist on the market. 

R&D and launch

Coming out of Big Idea Ventures’ third food tech accelerator program, Wellme is now gearing up to launch on the market. According to the company, it has already conducted over 400 R&D tests but will continue to develop its fibre- and protein-rich plant-based yogurt products. 

Wellme plans to launch its Berrywell pots via e-commerce channels first. (Image: Wellme)

It plans to launch the range via e-commerce, the consumer channel dominating the Chinese retail market, before entering brick-and-mortar stores. According to GlobalData, the Chinese e-commerce industry is set to reach US$2.1 trillion in sales this year and will continue growing double-digits to top US$3 trillion by 2024. 

A number of other plant-based players are also looking to capture Chinese consumers through the thriving e-commerce channel. Beyond Meat, for instance, recently entered JD.com, whilst Eat Just has launched on both Tmall and JD.com. 


All images courtesy of Wellme. 


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