Could the perfect chickpea be the plant-based star of tomorrow by challenging animal protein head-on?

Source: FooDaily Food

Earlier this year, FooDaily released its “Top 10 Hotspots and Business Opportunities in the Food and Beverage Industry for 2020.” Among them, “Replacing Protein, Redefining the Future of Nutrition” is one of the most anticipated growth areas.

Protein is an indispensable nutrient for human life activities. In the past, animal protein was mainly used as the source of high quality protein. With the improvement of people’s living standards, the use of animal protein has become more and more common, but excessive consumption of animal protein has caused obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis and other problems increasingly significant, and plant protein from a wide range of sources, high protein content, low fat, cholesterol free began to receive attention.

Over the past two years, protein substitutes have made a lot of headway, and this inevitable trend will continue to expand in the future, from plant proteins to dairy products, to meat, seafood, egg products, etc.

For now, soy protein is the main player in the plant-based field, pea protein is getting a lot of attention, and other kinds of alternative proteins are also waiting in the wings. Alternative proteins have blossomed, and recently we have focused on a promising alternative protein – chickpea protein.

1. What are the special effects of chickpea protein?

The flavor of ingredients is an important part of the product. Many plant proteins produce bitter or unpleasant flavors that require the addition of sugar, artificial flavors or other masking agents to mask these flavors. Chickpeas have a neutral flavor, so the use of these additives can be greatly reduced.

Bulk dairy ingredients, such as milk, nuts and soybeans, are very common allergens. Chickpea allergies, by contrast, are extremely rare. Chickpeas are also non-GMO and do not contain phytoestrogens.

In general, plant milk has less protein than cow’s milk, less important essential nutrients, and tends to be higher in sugar. Chickpea powder contains about 62 percent protein, 14 percent fiber, 19 percent complex carbohydrates, 4 percent minerals and ash, and less than 0.1 percent fat (low fat content is important because high fat content shortens shelf life and causes odors).

Although it is not a complete protein such as soy, eggs or casein, it is a source of high quality concentrated protein with a digestibility score of 93% and a PDCAAS (protein digestibility adjusted amino acid fraction) score of 0.82, which is among the TOP levels in the field of plant proteins.

To make artificial meat products from organized plant proteins, pea fibers or other proteins are often added, sometimes even tapioca starch is used. Chickpea protein extract itself contains the required fiber, protein and natural starch, so this single component can be used to meet the texture requirements.

Chickpea protein also has the advantage of eliminating the use of methyl cellulose, a gelatinous and emulsifying additive. Leading plant-based brands including Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger are looking at chickpeas.

2, challenge animal milk protein, chickpea imitation ability is more outstanding

Global plant milk is growing at three times the rate of the food and beverage industry average, according to Innova Market Insights. Global plant milk grew at a CAGR of 22% between 2014 and 2018, with Europe leading the way, accounting for 38% of total plant milk launches in 2018, and overall demand is growing rapidly.

Chickp was founded by Ram Reifen, director of the Center for Nutrigenomics and Functional Foods at the Hebrew University, who was interested in the non-allergenic and nutritional properties of chickpea. Chickp is a supplier of chickpea raw materials to plant milk and meat products.

The main challenges with plant milk are solubility and flavor, and ChickP has developed chickpea isolates that are highly solubility, high protein content, and have a neutral flavor, making them ideal alternatives to milk.

Sensory parameters such as taste, color and texture are key factors in the successful launch of any new product in the market. In addition, Chickp is able to overcome some of the textural issues that other plant proteins exhibit, without negatively affecting the overall sensory experience.

ChickP ramped up production in October 2019 with a plant-based dairy product made from chickpeas that better mimics the flavor, mouthfeel and nutritional value of milk and yogurt.

3. It’s hard to find raw meat, and chickpeas are expected to take the leading role

With so few ingredients available for plant-based Meat recipes, Impossible Food and Beyond Meat emphasize the need for plant-based ingredients.

Finding more expanded protein sources suitable for the production of plant-derived meat is arguably “the biggest challenge facing the industry today”. Restructuring proteins through extrusion or other techniques to mimic the texture of meat as best as possible will also be an ongoing challenge.

US raw material supplier Nutriati has produced the world’s first chickpea plant tissue proteins for use in foods such as burgers and sausages using a drying (extrusion) process (less than 8% water).

Nutriati’s chickpea proteins have a small, uniform size, neutral flavor, outstanding taste and appearance, excellent functional properties, water-oil binding quality, freeze-thaw stability and suspension properties that help them beat other competitors in the plant meat industry. The technology is currently pending a patent.

CEO Nutriati said: “The brands we have been working with are also very pleased and encouraged by our results. Chickpea protein products are firm but not mushy, not too soft, easy to form but not gelatinous. Importantly, it is not one of the eight allergens and is a sustainable source of protein.”

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