While other investors are tightening their purse strings as the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps the world, Jerusalem Venture Partners has neither stalled nor scrapped its new plant-based protein deal, leading a $15 million Series B funding round into Israel’s InnovoPro, a company isolating protein from chickpeas. Additional strategic investors in this round included Custos Privatstiftung, Andritz CEO Wolfgang Leitner, and the food tech early-stage investor CPT Capital.
This is the second chickpea-related investment this week; Asian vegetarian food products company Growthwell invested in another Israeli company ChickP after raising funding itself from the likes of Singapore state fund Temasek. (Find out more here.)
The deals come as plant-based protein companies have reported strong retail sales during the pandemic, with consumers anxious to stockpile their larders or freezers with dependable and sustainable products that last. Does this signal a possible opportunity for chickpea protein to shoot to stockpile stardom? Or will it be crowded out by the more tried and tested options like soy, oats, peas or nuts?
This reporter came across InnovoPro in Tel Aviv last year during a wider look at the “land of alt-milk and AI honey.” An ordinary chickpea contains 20% protein, but the company has been designing a chickpea protein concentrate that reaches 70%. The team describes it as an “eco-friendly, non-GMO, non-allergenic, gluten-free” ingredient with “no aftertaste.”
The chickpea concentrate, the team hopes, can be embedded in anything from meat analogues to dairy alternatives, or anything from sports nutrition products to snacks, icecreams, or spreads.
A chickpea revolution
In a statement send to AFN, Jerusalem Venture Partners founder and CEO Erel Margalit calls the product “revolutionary” and reckons it should play an “essential role in the food industry’s response to creating the next wave of plant-based protein.”
InnovoPro CEO Taly Nechushtan, meanwhile, expects that chickpeas “are considered by consumers as a superfood,” so there will be a large market for somethign that is both tasty and healthy. “Consumers are demanding that the food industry provide more alternatives and more diversified options than just soy and corn,” he said in a statement sent to AFN, echoing similar thoughts to the management of another Israeli chickpea foodtech company called ChickP. The plant protein of ChickP has been designed by the faculty of agriculture, food and environment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It uses a patent-pending technology to extract up to 90% pure protein out of the chickpea seed.
This week, Singaporean vegetarian food manufacturer Growthwell announced it’s investing in ChickP, and will begin making products for the Asia-Pacific market using the Israeli startup’s protein.
Would you ever eat chickpea icecream? Let us know what you think of this Middle Eastern approach to plant-based protein by dropping an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org