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Next-generation chickpea protein: Israeli start-up InnovoPro nets US$15m funding

April 24, 2020
Food & Drink

With ambitions to launch a next-generation range of chickpea protein, Israeli food-tech company InnovoPro has raised US$15 million in Series B funding led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).

The company now aims to tap into a US$40 billion market of protein ingredients, while scaling up its manufacturing of alternative and sustainable protein-rich products.

“We are extremely proud of this vote of confidence that our investors showed in our company as evident by the size and timing of the investment. Strategic investors in this round included Custos Privatstiftung; Wolfgang Leitner, CEO of engineering solution company Andritz AG; and CPT Capital, one of the premier global food tech investors, as well as additional strategic and financial investors,” a spokesperson of the start-up tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Chickpea protein is expected to enjoy more time in the spotlight as consumer appetite for soy-based alternatives is sparking demand for other protein-rich crops. It also notably taps into “The Plant-Based Revolution,” pegged as Innova Market Insights’ second Top Trend of 2020. Alternatives to animal byproducts in food and beverages continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend towards cleaner living.

InnovoPro’s innovations taps into the increasingly popular plant-based diet trend.While chickpeas naturally contain around 20 percent protein, InnovoPro is marketed as the first manufacturer to launch a 70 percent chickpea protein concentrate. The company notes its product extends customers’ choices for a new, clean-label, non-GMO and nonallergenic source of protein and brings excellent food-technology properties as well as benefits in terms of functionality, health, nutrition, taste and mouthfeel. These properties render it highly suitable for developing a broad range of food products that meet a range of demands from diverse global target audiences.

“The world needs new, innovative protein, alternatives to the milk and meat industry that exist today,” says Erel Margalit, Founder & Chairman of JVP. “InnovoPro’s chickpea protein is a revolutionary product that plays an essential role in the food industry’s response to creating the next wave of plant-based protein – replacing protein from animals.”

Over the past few years, InnovoPro has spearheaded projects to develop products based on its chickpea protein. In order to support its global customers, InnovoPro has developed prototype food products based on its chickpea protein in various categories such as dairy alternatives, meat analogues, sports nutrition, bakery, snacks, spreads and ice cream. Various products based on InnovoPro’s chickpea protein have already been launched in the US, Europe and Israel.

“The growing demand for plant-based protein is setting new records with every year that goes by,” says Taly Nechushtan, CEO of InnovoPro. “We believe that InnovoPro will lead the new alternative protein category and be the one to introduce products with added health and nutritional values to customers.”

Chickpeas are considered by many consumers to be a superfood.Since chickpeas are considered by many consumers to be a superfood, InnovoPro’s “next generation” of ingredients will not just be offering tasty and “free-from” properties, but health properties as well, notes Nechushtan. She goes on to explain that “this is a huge market in transformation that is leaning toward more balanced nutrition – nutrition that will not only be plant-based, but also healthy and sustainable. Consumers are demanding that the food industry provide more alternatives and more diversified options than just soy and corn.”

The company has been recognized as an innovator of disruptive technology in the food industry. Over the past three years, InnovoPro garnered awards such as “Most Innovative Protein of the Year” at the Protein Summit in 2018, and “Most Innovative Startup in Israeli Food-Tech” in 2018.

“We see InnovoPro as more than just a promising start-up” adds Michal Drayman, JVP Partner. “Over the past two years we have made significant progress in the worldwide food market and succeeded in creating strategic partnerships with the biggest names in the industry. The capital raised will be used to position InnovoPro as one of the top alternative protein companies in the world.”

Investments in the Israeli agri-food start-up sector have boomed from 2014 to 2018, raising almost US$800 million in funding over this period, according to a report by venture capital platform AgFunder. In 2019, InnovoPro was chosen to be a member in the EIT Food RisingFoodStars community.

By: Benjamin Ferrer

Source: Food Ingredients First

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