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ChickP Protein stars in compelling dairy cheese analog

March 22, 2023

Food-tech start-up, ChickP Protein, has created prototypes of chickpea-powered cream cheese and firm cheddar cheese. The new innovations match real dairy cheese in appearance, flavor, and are highly nutritious.

ChickP’s breakthrough formulations will be instrumental in helping manufacturers fast-track customization of plant-based cheese products that genuinely respond to consumers' cravings for a delicious cheesy experience. The new cheese applications join the company’s expanding line of plant-based alternative prototypes, including egg-free mayonnaise, ice-cream, and chickpea-based barista coffee creamer, which illustrate the functional versatility of ChickP’s ingredient.

Cheese is an original comfort food, venerated as a savory, nutritious item enjoyed as a snack or as a key flavorful component of unlimited popular dishes. The appetite for cheese has never shown signs of waning. According to a Smart Protein Project survey conducted in 10 countries, cheese is the leading animal-based food product, with individual consumption averaging in a range from one to six times per week. The same report indicates a strong willingness to shift to plant-based versions, but in conflict with an overall dissatisfaction with the taste, texture, and value of products currently on the market. Still, the demand for plant-based cheese is growing exponentially and is expected to attain a market value of US$7 billion by the end of 2030.

“Flexitarians dominate the consumer market for dairy alternatives,” stated Liat Lachish Levy, CEO of ChickP. “They are eager to eat vegan alternatives as long as those alternatives can level up to real dairy’s sensory and nutritional attributes. These are precisely the gaps the industry is striving to close. While some cheese analog producers succeed on the sensory points, this often comes at the expense of the desired nutritional balance – and vice versa.”

ChickP broke down the barriers to the perfect protein for creating a no-compromise cheese alternative. The start-up’s formula is based on its proprietary, high-functioning chickpea isolate. The isolate embodies a 90% whole protein composition and provides a powerful and nutritional boost to plant-based food applications. The isolate also is clean-label, with a neutral flavor, making it a highly versatile ingredient to work with.

ChickP’s cream cheese formulation combines the isolate with a few simple ingredients, such as water, coconut oil, and starch. Its tangy cheese-like flavor is obtained via fermentation with lactic bacteria, just like the traditional milk-based process. As a cultured product, it is naturally replete with probiotic benefits.

“We insisted on applying only traditional processes for our winning cheese analogs,” explained Maor Dahan, Application Manager for ChickP. “Our formulas contain no stabilizers or gums. We explored a range of cultures to find the strains that work best with our formula. On top of that, the synergy between the chickpea isolates and starch helped create a rich, smooth, creamy textured spread on par with real dairy cream cheese and awards hearty complete protein fulfillment.”

ChickP also produced a chickpea-based firm cheese that delivers the bold, earthy flavor and chewy texture of cheddar cheese. It also is produced via fermentation to achieve depth of flavor, firmness and natural probiotic benefits. It works well on sandwiches, melts nicely on cheese toast and transforms into a cheesy sauce for creating an alfredo-style pasta or a vegan macaroni and cheese.

The company currently is developing analogs of other popular cheeses, such as emmental, parmesan, and mozzarella. ChickP is cooperating with global alternative dairy producers and traditional dairy manufacturers segue into the alt protein arena, helping them tailor signature cheese products. ChickP will provide them with raw materials, recipe, and technical expertise.

You can read more about ChickP's genesis in our interview with the company from February. Click here

Photograph courtesy of Nimrod Genisher (he/him)

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