Seed World

Consortium will Develop Chickpea Ingredients and Proteins to Leverage the Chickpea’s Full Potential in Food

Innovation from a newly extracted ingredient is strengthening Canada’s claim as a leader in plant-based foods – and that ingredient is a chickpea.

Humble and Frank Foods Ltd., InnovoPro and The Star Group are researching and testing chickpea ingredients and proteins in a variety of consumer-ready plant-based food products, leading to new high-quality chickpea-based food products for Canadians.

“Our government is proud to support this project, which will improve the range of domestically produced plant-based proteins available to Canadians. With the support of Protein Industries Canada, these project partners will be adding another high-protein plant-based ingredient option for food processors looking to Canada for high-quality, innovative products,” the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry said.

“Plant-based foods, such as chickpeas, represent a significant economic opportunity for Canadian companies to meet growing global and consumer demands for protein-rich foods that are healthy and environmentally sustainable. With research and development in new processing methods, agri-food producers will have additional tools to ensure a reliable and secure food supply of the nutritious food we all rely on,” the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said.

Canada is a leading grower and one of the largest exporters of chickpea, but chickpea protein is a new ingredient that has not yet reached its full potential in Canadian food products. Growing trends suggest consumers seek a greater variety of plant-based foods other than pea-, soy- and wheat-based products. The consortium will address this market by creating protein-packed salad dressings, sauces, breading, frozen desserts and other protein alternatives made from Canadian chickpeas.

“Chickpeas represent a new ingredient option for Canada’s growing plant-based food sector. Canadian companies are again demonstrating their commitment to innovative plant-based foods and ingredients,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “The consortium is creating significant benefits that will ripple across the value chain, from increasing capacity for Canadian farmers and processors, to expanding the healthy, high-protein food options for consumers around the world.”

Capitalizing on chickpeas as a clean-tasting, functional ingredient, the consortium intends to strengthen Canada’s chickpea supply chain by utilizing Innovopro’s chickpea protein and other ingredients from chickpeas; creating new products for use by domestic and international food processors; partnering on research and development opportunities between Canadian and international companies; and further developing chickpea’s reputation.

Humble and Frank will test the ingredients and finished goods and work with co-packers, InnovoPro and The Star Group, to scale up production for consumer- and industry-ready products. InnovoPro, a food-tech company with a leading chickpea protein platform, will oversee processing for finished chickpea protein formulas and support Humble and Frank, ensuring its incorporation into a finished product. The Star Group, a plant-based meal kit developer with expertise in maximizing shelf life, will create new value-added meal kits and salads incorporating variations of chickpea protein.

“We believe food is made better when you gather and collaborate. Working directly with the protein source, InnovoPro and the creative meal-kit team at The Star Group has been invaluable to bringing Humble and Frank products to market quickly. Our consortium team is dreaming big, and we are packing plant-based, Canadian chickpea protein into your favourite foods for a delicious and sustainable taste – season, sprinkle, marinate and sauce it up,” Humble and Frank Foods President Megan Du Preez said.

“We are looking forward to this great partnership with Humble and Frank and The Star Group,” Taly Nechushtan, Chief Executive Officer of InnovoPro said. “We’re thrilled to share forces with such innovative companies and jointly introduce new and unique nutritious, great-tasting, and sustainable plant-based food solutions in the Canadian market.”

“The Star Group is thrilled to be a part of this exciting new project. Canadians have long been leaders in agronomy, food sciences and the development of innovative food products, and so the combination of all three, with the leadership of three dynamic companies, is truly a golden opportunity. We are proud to be involved and look forward to contributing to the future of Canadian food production,” Star Lab Director Jon Karwacki said.

A total of $2.8 million is being invested into this project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $1.4 million and the consortium members investing the remainder.

Over the past three years, Protein Industries Canada and industry partners have invested more than $480 million into growing Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector. The results of these investments include improved farming practices, increased sustainability and traceability, and the production of new ingredients and food products.

Cumulatively this will increase the choices available to Canadians on grocery store shelves, create jobs and improve the health of our environment. Protein Industries Canada’s goal is to grow Canada’s plant-based food sector to $25 billion a year by 2035, supported by 17,000 jobs.

—Source: Protein Industries Canada