Bits x Bites News

Bits x Bites Backs Chickpea Company InnovoPro with Co-Investors Migros and JVP

This week, it was announced that Bits x Bites has invested in InnovoPro, an Israeli food tech company that has become the world’s first to extract 70 percent protein concentrate from chickpeas. The funding round was US$4.25 million in total, led by Migros, Switzerland’s largest retailer, and Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), and joined by fellow co-investors including Ran Tuttnauer, former owner of the Tuttnauer Group, ID Capital from Singapore, and Yara Ventures from Spain.

Chickpeas are not a common ingredient at the Chinese dining table. They are only occasionally served in regional dishes like Xinjiang. So what drew Bits x Bites to invest in InnovoPro and its chickpea-based solution?


Plants are back in favor in China

In recent years, a prevailing weight loss culture and health concerns are drawing Chinese urbanites back to vegetables and nuts as part of a modern diet. In fact, between 2015 and 2020, China is projected to be the fastest growing market internationally for vegan products at a rate of 17.2%, according to South China Morning Post. This was a clear departure from the diet transformation that had unfolded in China just one generation ago, when beef was famously considered the millionaire’s meat, and when parents saw a meat-centered meal was the surefire way to raise healthy children.

Not surprising is that this plant-based demand surge is mainly driven by millennials, who are filling popular vegetarian restaurants sprouting up across Shanghai and other top-tier cities. The population of full-time vegetarians or vegans remains a small minority. The shift mostly comes from growing flexitarians who enjoy their pork dumplings as much as they do an occasional warm avocado salad bowl. And they are looking for food options that check the boxes for a healthier meal and an exciting new food experience.

In this fast-evolving consumer environment, chickpeas can provide just the ingredient for new vegetarian and vegan product launches. And we are particularly excited about its potential applications in the dairy and snack segments—both showing tremendous growth in the outsized Chinese market.


Demanding consumers scrutinizing what’s in their food

Consumers today demand transparency in the food they buy. Frustrated by one food safety scandal after another, Chinese consumers are fast becoming diligent label readers examining every food packaging for anything that appears artificial or harmful.

While not all consumers interpret the health value of individual ingredients through the same lens, most can agree on this: Simpler ingredients mean a more natural product and overall a better option, even if it comes with a higher price tag.

With its technology, InnovoPro can now produce chickpea starch and 70% chickpea protein concentrate, which function as shelf-stable, non-GMO ingredients for emulsification, foaming, fat and water binding. This means food companies can replace modified starch and a range of animal-derived ingredients and pursue a cleaner label. It is an appealing solution also because it has no aftertaste and therefore does not overcome other flavors.  


Expect a wild medley of protein sources in our future menu

The truth is China remains the world’s largest meat consumer and importer. And as population continues to climb, protein demand will continue to grow, not only in China but across the world.

Be it chickpea-based, cell-based, algae-based, animal-based, or fermented yeast-based, the less we rely on any one type of protein source, the better it is for our bodies and our planet.

Today, chickpea proteins are a novel ingredient that is yet to become mainstream, and InnovoPro is on a mission to accelerate that. The technology is ready for deployment, and the team has started collaborating with leading corporations to bring their solution to scale. We are delighted to be backing this team!


Read more about InnovoPro here:

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