This new version of the legume can be tailored to mimic the qualities of a range of foods, including meat and eggs
Spotted: Supplying the world’s growing population with healthy amounts of protein that do not further damage the environment, has been a challenge for growers for generations. Plant-based proteins are a popular meat and dairy replacement but have not yet scaled enough to be totally commercially viable and are often too expensive once they do reach supermarket shelves. Meeting food regulatory requirements is also part of the difficulty of bringing such alternatives to shops.
A new approach, from a California food tech company called NuCicer, doubles the protein value of the humble chickpea, making it a financially attractive alternative to other plant-based proteins, nearly cutting the cost of production of the crop in half. Bred from a strain of chickpea native to Turkey, Professor Douglas Cook, co-Founder and CSO at NuCicer, spent twenty years of research on legume genetics to bring the NuCicer version to market.
The company offers proteins that are tailored to a specific product. For example, by including special gelling and emulsification properties, it allows the chickpea protein to be used in place of eggs or incorporating a specific mix of amino acids for use instead of meat. The NuCicer chickpeas are not genetically modified, and because the new variety contains double the amount of protein, growers can either double their output on the same amount of land or reduce the size of their crop while maintaining the same volume of protein output.
Written By: Keely Khoury