“Processed foods don’t have to be bad. Right now it’s not so good.

Chickpea products are the third generation of plant-based proteins that will improve on previous options, says Taly Nechushtan, CEO of InnovoPro. Soy and pea protein offered good nutritional value, she shares, but they didn’t tick all the boxes that InnovoPro’s chickpea-based protein does. Their product is sustainable, nutritious, functional and tasty, she says. It’s used as an ingredient in processed foods, which Nechushtan says doesn’t have to be bad or full of unrecognizable ingredients. Although they have rolled out a few chickpea protein products, she says InnovoPro intends to expand using other parts of the chickpea as well. This will help meet demand from consumers and food companies, who are curious to find solutions for better processed foods. Nechushtan is passionate about marketing and sustainability and enjoys combining them to improve the future of food.

The biggest problem for consumers who would like to do something good for the environment, reduce their consumption of meat and their consumption of dairy products, is taste. Many people report that they can’t even stand the smell of certain vegetable proteins. It’s a challenge to create plant-based protein products that are also tasty. This is another strong attribute or uniqueness of InnovoPro Chickpea Protein as it has a neutral taste. There are important qualities that this ingredient has in one: clean label, taste, functionality and durability. Our process is highly sustainable. Farmers use chickpea as a rotation crop. It brings nitrogen back to the soil. We source next to the factory and then apply our technology. In the end, we get our CP‑PRO 70.

What was really the catalyst for all of this? Is it a new idea that chickpeas can facilitate as an intelligent agent for many of these processes?

We have been consuming vegetable proteins for many years. The first era of vegetable protein was soy protein. It extracts protein from soybeans in a way that is considered unsustainable by consumers today because it uses organic solvents. It is a very good source of protein, very nutritious. However, its process is not necessarily sustainable. The second generation, which is a plant protein improvement, was pea protein. However, the challenge with pea protein is taste. Companies have to mask the taste with a lot of helping agents. Additionally, pea protein has its own challenges in terms of functionality, solubility, etc. We always want something better, so the next generation of protein should make up for whatever the first two lack. We offer CP‑PRO 70 as a third generation protein that will be sustainable, nutritious, tasty and functional.

Where is InnovoPro positioned today? What is the vision of where you are taking this business?

Today we are a team of more than 20 multidisciplinary professionals from different fields. We envision being a chickpea ingredient platform. We have discovered that CP‑PRO 70 can be the first pioneer in the list of products available from chickpea. We intend to invest heavily in research and development in order to utilize the side streams in our process, as chickpea contains so much more. It contains fiber, oil, starch and sugars. These are all very interesting ingredients that can contribute to food companies looking for own brand ingredients. This year we launched two new products based on CP‑PRO 70. TVP is a textured vegetable protein mainly used in the meat substitute industry. It has structure and contributes to the biting sensation. The second is a product that mimics the functionality of egg white for industrialized bakery companies. So they can create a meringue, for example, without the egg white.

Is it trivial for the companies you sell to? Do they immediately understand how this can be a solution that can be a catalyst for them for many things?

I think there’s a lot of curiosity about it. The companies’ R&D teams welcome the curious. They want to discover new ingredients in order to become more relevant to consumers. There is a demand, and there is a lot of curiosity to find new ingredients, to find new solutions. The implementation part is more difficult. Sometimes such processes take a while until these companies reach sufficient maturity, sufficient understanding. They sometimes build their own line of machines. Sometimes the machines used for regular yogurt are not the same as for plant-based yogurt, so sometimes they have to buy new equipment or get their hands on knowledge they didn’t have before. So it takes some time. But we see that the need is there. The demand is very great. More and more companies are becoming confident seeing new launches from other companies in other regions. More the merrier, the merrier.

Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies artificial intelligence at Stanford University, is a venture capital partner at J-Ventures and was an engineer at Hippo Insurance. Matias was previously an officer in Unit 8200. 20MinuteLeaders is a series of tech entrepreneurship interviews featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences. Contributing Editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan

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