Israeli maker of chickpea-based proteins gets $4.25 million boost

With its puddings, snacks and mayonnaise, InnovoPro is aiming beyond vegans at the market of omnivores who want to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

InnovoPro develops vegan proteins based on chick peas, including vegan mayonnaise (YouTube screenshot)
InnovoPro develops vegan proteins based on chick peas, including vegan mayonnaise (YouTube screenshot)

Israeli foodtech company InnovoPro, which develops vegan proteins using chickpeas, said it has raised $4.25 million backed by investors including Switzerland’s largest retailer Migros, a Chinese foodtech VC fund and Israeli entrepreneur Erel Margalit, the founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners.

The Rishpon. Israel-based company will use the funds to grow production, sales and expand into global markets, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The firm claims to be “the first in the world” to produce what it says is a 70 percent-protein concentrate from chickpeas, with a high nutritional value. The prototype products it has developed based on its chickpea protein come in a range of offerings, including dairy products like puddings, meat alternatives, high-protein chickpea-based snacks and vegan mayonnaise.

InnovoPro’s says its plant-based protein has not been genetically modified, is free of phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived estrogens, has no aftertaste and does not cause allergies.

The chickpea based protein developed by InnovoPro has not been genetically modified, is free of phytoestrogens, has no aftertaste and does not cause allergies (YouTube screenshot)

Unlike other competing plant proteins, the production of chickpea protein is green, clean and eco-friendly, said Taly Nechushtan, CEO of InnovoPro.

“Our process comprises production of protein and starch. Rather than targeting the vegetarian and vegan markets, we are responding to consumers who seek to reduce their meat and dairy consumption as well as consumers who look for soy-free, dairy-free or gluten-free products,” she said in the statement.

Taly Nechushtan, CEO of foodtech firm InnovoPro (Courtesy)

The market for plant-based protein is estimated at $40 billion. InnovoPro however is targeting the even larger $900 billion market of meat, fish and poultry, which is searching for new opportunities for providing protein-rich products, the statement said.

“In view of the global food scarcity issues, the world cannot continue consuming meat and dairy food as it does today,” said JVP’s Margalit. “As the world’s population continues to grow, we need to find new, sustainable food solutions. InnovoPro’s development is a global breakthrough poised to revolutionize the way the world consumes protein. The food corporations have already internalized the new reality and are forming new collaborations to manufacture the next generation of food for the global population.”

The firm was founded in 2013 based on technology developed by Ascher Shmulewitz, and engineer and inventor who is on the advisory board of the startup and has previously founded and sold a number of companies, the InnovoPro website says.

“In the coming years China is projected to have the fastest growing vegan market worldwide,” said Matilda Ho, founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, the Chinese VC fund that invested in the Israeli startup.”It also has one of the world’s most dynamic consumer markets with an expanding middle class eager to dive into new food experiences.”

InnovoPro’s chickpea solution can ride that momentum in China and Bits x Bites will help the firm access the market, she said.

Other investors in the round include Ran Tuttnauer, former owner of the Tuttnauer Group, ID Capital from Singapore and Yara Ventures from Spain. Previous InnovoPro investors included Foodlab Capital, an Israeli investment house focused on food technologies, and the founder Shmulewitz, the statement said.

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