14/12/2022 – Ingredients / Nutrition / Health / Sustainability / Fi Europe / InnovoPro
InnovoPro: The chickpea protein pioneer
As chickpea protein pioneer InnovoPro showcases its latest innovations at this year’s Fi Europe in Paris, Food & Beverage Networker speaks with CEO Taly Nechushtan about the firm’s proprietary extraction process, its achievements to date, and its ambition to revolutionise the global F&B industry.
Could you describe the origins of the business, including any major milestones in its development thus far?
Taly Nechushtan: “InnovoPro is a fast-growing food-tech company that produces a unique, award-winning, chickpea protein-based platform for the global B2B food & nutrition market.
“We aim to transform the way people eat across the globe by helping our customers create products that people feel good about – not only because they taste great, but also because they are sustainable, clean label, and healthier than other options on the market today.
“We have well-known investors supporting our business, from global top-tier financial and strategic investors. To create the best chickpea protein solutions, we have joined forces with Givaudan, a world-renowned flavour-house. The recent investment was from Ingredion, a leading global provider of ingredient solutions, and we have just recently announced that we took the alliance to the next level by signing an exclusive commercial distribution partnership to scale chickpea proteins for North America.
“InnovoPro was awarded a ‘Seal of Excellence’ from the European Commission and the EU research and innovation programme, recognising the high quality of its products. In 2021, InnovoPro was recognised by the United Nations as one of the 50 leading SMEs to shape the future of our global food systems, and we won the ‘Good for All Best Small Business’ award.
InnovoPro’s CP-PRO70® was recently selected as a finalist in the 2022 Sustainable Food Awards in the ‘Sustainable Ingredient’ category. The award is given to an ingredient that makes a sustainable difference in terms of environmental and/or social impact.”
And could you tell me a little about yourself, as well as giving us a snapshot of the team at InnovoPro?
“I have worked in various fields throughout my career – from marketing management for food corporations all the way to founding a renewable energy company. This journey allowed me to gain a better understanding of why prioritising a sustainable approach in how we grow and process our food is so important. As the first employee at InnovoPro, the first few months were focused on understanding the ecosystem and learning as much as possible about global consumer behaviours. I realised that what we do at InnovoPro – extracting a protein from chickpea in a sustainable way – will significantly impact the future of food.
“Today, I work alongside our experienced and highly professional team at InnovoPro. Their experience is quite diverse and it brings a fresh outlook into the business.
“Following the evolution and growth of the company, the team has evolved as well, growing by 50 per cent in 2022.”
Could you outline InnovoPro’s range of chickpea protein products, alongside some of the key F&B applications for these solutions?
“InnovoPro developed a proprietary extraction process for a 70-per-cent chickpea protein concentrate, based on which we developed our flagship product, CP-Pro 70®, that is produced through a green process and has a lower environmental footprint. Our breakthrough technology enables us to formulate clean-label products with a short ingredient list and zero additives. CP-Pro 70® is a high-quality, plant-based protein that doesn’t compromise taste, texture or appearance.
“In 2022, we evolved from a single product company to a chickpea protein platform by unveiling two new products designed to revolutionise the global food and beverage industry. One of them is CP-XTURA™, the first-ever chickpea-based textured protein for meat-alternatives. Thanks to its functional benefits and essential nutritional values, CP-XTURA™ delivers great-texture, bite, and mouthfeel. This helps the food industry to formulate non-allergenic consumer-favourite foods that meet the rising demand for both tastier and more sustainable food choices.
“While the market for egg replacement ingredients has been gradually expanding, there is still a gap within the industry for alternatives that are able to maintain the same shape, texture, and taste that egg whites provide and consumers crave. To this end, InnovoPro changed the game and launched CP-Stabilifoam, an egg white replacement that can be used for meringues, mousses, and other vegan desserts. It offers a solution to food safety challenges, the rising price of eggs, and the need for plant-based food choices.
“We started by addressing the dairy alternative market, and moved to meat alternative and egg replacement as a natural evolution of our portfolio and based on consumer needs.”
Healthy eating is clearly top of mind for many consumers today – particularly in the post-pandemic world. What are the health credentials of InnovoPro products?
“CP-PRO70 ® is a unique all-in-one superfood solution with an excellent nutritional profile, and ‘free-from’ properties. It is allergen-free, gluten-free and non-GMO.
“Due to our gentle, green extraction technology, our CP-PRO 70® protein concentrate is a high-quality protein with a great combination of high-potassium and low sodium levels. It’s also leading the pack with a protein digestibility score of 100 per cent, high PDCAAS [Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score], and is a complete protein with all essential amino acids.”
How does chickpea protein generally – and InnovoPro products specifically – perform within the context of sustainability?
“At Innovopro, we implement a sustainable approach by utilising a rotational crop that is good for the farmers. The chickpeas are sourced locally, produced using a green process, and provide our customers an opportunity to clean up their label and shorten their ingredient list.
“All these advantages make chickpea protein a unique product that gives consumers and the industry as a whole an ‘all in one’ solution for many different needs.
“Leveraging chickpea protein also allows for the formulation of high-quality clean label products, without compromising taste or appearance. Furthermore, chickpea protein can be used by many different industrial processes and for preparing different applications – a unique value in the plant-based protein market.”
‘Clean label’ and ‘Free From’ are important trends when it comes to consumer food choices. How do InnovoPro products address such demand?
“Our Chickpea protein is highly functional and performing very well as an emulsifier. It can therefore successfully substitute starches and stabilisers in various applications and offer a clean label product that is sought after by consumers. Additionally, the fact that our protein is produced via a green process is also reinforcing the clean label claim.
“As allergenicity and GMO ingredients are also of growing concern, it is important to highlight that our product is non allergenic, non-GMO and gluten-free.”
Geographically speaking, where are InnovoPro’s major markets today, and in which markets are you targeting growth?
“InnovoPro’s chickpea protein is commercially available and has strong traction with dozens of customers across 12 countries. Our customers range from large corporates like Migros, the giant Swiss retailer, to medium-sized local companies and innovative CPG startups.
“We started in Europe, followed by North America, and in the near future we are aiming to consolidate our position in these markets – the commercial distribution partnership with Ingredion is a game-changing milestone in our evolution and a giant step in the creation of better food choices for consumers worldwide.”
How do you see the demand for alternative protein evolving over the next decade or so?
“Plant-based eating continues to defy the odds, as consumers in ever-greater numbers adopt this as a better-for-you lifestyle choice. Some experts predict that the trend is just getting started. But as more consumers – from vegans and vegetarians to flexitarians – embrace plant-based products, also the expectations of the consumers on taste and texture to sustainable sourcing are higher.
“We believe that the growth trend will continue, but the pace will be dictated by several factors, one of them being the level of investment in this arena – both for production facilities and scale up, but also for technology development to improve performance on taste, texture and functionality. These are necessary steps to address consumer needs of price gap reduction versus animal-based products and taste standards in order to significantly increase penetration.
“InnovoPro is already addressing some of these challenges quite successfully, but it is an ongoing process of improvement that we plan to continue pursuing.”
What are the future plans for the business?
“InnovoPro plans to further develop new chickpea protein-based solutions to support our customers in formulating better food choices. As part of our sustainable business model, we also aim to utilise all chickpea side-streams and implement a ‘zero-waste’ plan for the production process.”
Could you reveal more about InnovoPro’s participation at Fi Europe this year?
“InnovoPro will be attending Food Ingredients Europe in Paris from 6–8 December 2022. We are excited to showcase our latest creations including plant-based fish bites with tartar sauce, egg-free blinis, and vegan meringues in strawberry and cocoa-coconut flavours. The new offerings are made with InnovoPro’s product portfolio, which is dynamic enough to create an entire menu of foods – from appetisers to desserts – that are sustainable, great-tasting, and clean-label.
“With the food and beverage industry shifting rapidly, we are at a monumental turning point, especially in the meat alternative market. Our chickpea protein is an incredible example of where the industry is headed, and we are excited to give the world a glimpse of what new, forward-thinking solutions we have on the horizon. Join us and visit InnovoPro at booth 7.2L10.”
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