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Unlocking chickpea's protein potential - Taly Nechushtan [Interview]

Protein from superfood pulses is one of the biggest trends at the moment and chickpeas' functional properties make them extremely versatile.

Innovopro has developed a patent-pending technology for extracting protein concentrate from chickpeas, which are a non-GMO, non-allergenic, sustainable, healthy and tasty vegan source of protein.

Protein from superfood pulses is one of the biggest industry trends at the moment and chickpeas' great binding properties make them extremely versatile and suitable for many different applications. To find out more we interviewed Taly Nechushtan the CEO of InnovoPro.

Can you give a brief explanation of how InnovoPro came together? What gave you the initial idea to start using chickpeas?

'The initial protocol to extract protein from chickpeas was developed by the founder, Dr. Ascher Shmulewitz. Dr. Shmulewitz is a physician and an engineer, who was fascinated by the idea that food could prevent and cure diseases. Wanting to bring health and wellness to his patients, he studied the chickpea, which today is known to be a superfood. Ascher is a board member and is involved in the company's activities. Innovopro has developed a patent-pending technology for extracting protein concentrate from chickpeas, which are a non-GMO, non-allergenic, sustainable, healthy and tasty vegan source of protein.'

Your product fits in with today’s trends of sustainability, alternative protein or non-allergenic. What makes chickpeas stand out in a saturated market?

'Our product stands out mainly in the following ways:

  • Functionality: Our product enables formulating clean-label products, since it has strong emulsifying water- and oil binding properties that make it a superb binding agent.
  • Taste and colour: Our product's neutral taste and off-white colour enable formatting applications in numerous categories such as dairy replacement beverages, non-dairy desserts, plant-based spreads and vegan mayonnaise.
  • Ancient and safe: Chickpeas are an ancient legume that have been used for thousands of years by millions of people around the world.'

How does chickpea protein compare to traditional protein sources such as meat or dairy?

'Unlike traditional protein sources, such as meat or dairy, chickpea protein becomes a complete protein when combined with other plant proteins. Although it is not a complete protein, it has many beneficial nutritional properties:
  • Its protein quality is considered to be better than that of other pulses
  • Significant amounts of the essential amino acids
  • Rich in nutritionally important unsaturated fatty acids
  • Important sterols present in chickpea oil
  • Good source of vitamins and minerals
On the other hand, while many other animal-based proteins (whey, egg) are known allergens, chickpea protein is not on the allergen list. Additionally, chickpea protein is more sustainable than meat and dairy proteins.'

As a start-up, so far what have been your main challenges? What have you enjoyed the most?

'Our main challenge is to develop our scale-up capabilities and to collaborate with the right partners in order to form a JV for the production of consumer products. We enjoy connecting with the leading CPG’s in the world and working together.'

What is next for InnovoPro?

'InnovoPro is searching for distribution partners for its ingredient products and for food companies that will develop CPG’s based on its novel ingredient.'
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