ChickP strikes partnership with Socius Ingredients as part of US product rollout


Dive Brief:

  • ChickP Protein has started full commercial production of its 90% chickpea isolate, the company said in a statement. As part of its expansion in the U.S., the company also is entering into a joint market development agreement with Socius Ingredients. 
  • The chickpea isolate, which is designed to provide protein attributes and a nutritional boost to foods like dairy alternatives, baked products and gluten-free foods, has a dense nutritional profile, neutral flavor and unique functional properties, the company said.
  • The chickpea has rapidly expanded from the key ingredient in hummus to be included in foods such as bars, granola, chips and even ice cream as consumers look to cut back on animal-based products and are more open to trying new protein sources.

Dive Insight:

Few ingredients have been as popular in the food space in recent years as chickpeas, and there are no shortage of companies trying their hand with the trendy offering. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and may benefit people with illnesses such as diabetes. They also contain high levels of protein, which could be useful for people who are cutting down on meat consumption.

Chickpea pasta maker Banza recently expanded into frozen pizzas with a chickpea crust. In January, Hippeas gained a $50 million investment from The Craftory Limited, which it will use toward expanding production and distribution, and evolving beyond puffed chickpeas into multiple snacking categories. 

Despite the product development trend, some plant-based proteins are challenged by the bitter taste they can create. ChickP noted in its release that its product offers a more neutral taste, which could be an advantage as more manufacturers experiment with the ingredient. ChickP said it is up to a consistent, stable production capacity of 20 metric tons per day, or more than 5,000 metric tons annually, of its protein isolate. 

“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,” Itay Dana, who was hired by ChickP as its vice president of sales and business development, said in a statement. “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.”

The company also is actively seeking new opportunities in the plant-based alternatives industry. The Israeli firm said it is partnering with several food companies on specialized projects to develop the North American market for plant-based innovations, though it did not name the firms.

But one of ChickP’s primary goals is to tap into other markets, including the U.S. The partnership with Socius will enable it to benefit from its protein application insight and technical center in Chicago that is close to local food manufacturers that make plant-based products. It also allows ChickP to compete with other companies focusing on innovation using chickpeas, including InnovoPro.

As plant-based offerings grow, there is an increased demand among consumers for products that taste just like the animal-based burger, milk or other food they are trying to replace. Food manufacturers will be on the lookout for ingredients that allow their products to taste as close as possible to their animal counterpart, and ChickP appears to be doing what it can to make its chickpea line a part of the discussion.