PIC project focuses on creating high-protein foods using Canadian chickpeas

A consortium comprising Humble and Frank Foods, InnovoPro and the Star Group are researching and testing chickpea ingredients and proteins in a variety of consumer-ready plant-based food products.

“Our government is proud to support this project, which will improve the range of domestically produced plant-based proteins available to Canadians. With the support of Protein Industries Canada (PIC), these project partners will be adding another high-protein plant-based ingredient option for food processors looking to Canada for high-quality, innovative products,” said François-Philippe Champagne, innovation, science and industry minister.

Growing trends suggest consumers seek a greater variety of plant-based foods other than pea-, soy- and wheat-based products. The consortium will address this market by creating salad dressings, sauces, breading, frozen desserts and other protein alternatives made from Canadian chickpeas.

“Chickpeas represent a new ingredient option for Canada’s growing plant-based food sector. Canadian companies are again demonstrating their commitment to innovative plant-based foods and ingredients,” said PIC CEO Bill Greuel. “The consortium is creating significant benefits that will ripple across the value chain, from increasing capacity for Canadian farmers and processors to expanding the healthy, high-protein food options for consumers around the world.”

Humble and Frank will test chickpea-based ingredients and finished goods and work with co-packers, InnovoPro and the Star Group, to scale up production for consumer- and industry-ready products. InnovoPro, a food-tech company with a chickpea protein platform, will oversee processing for finished chickpea protein formulas and support Humble and Frank, ensuring its incorporation into a finished product. The Star Group, a plant-based meal kit developer with expertise in maximizing shelf life, will create new value-added meal kits and salads incorporating variations of chickpea protein.

“We believe food is made better when you gather and collaborate. Working directly with the protein source, InnovoPro and the creative meal-kit team at the Star Group has been invaluable in bringing Humble and Frank products to market quickly. Our consortium team is dreaming big, and we are packing plant-based, Canadian chickpea protein into your favorite foods for a delicious and sustainable taste – season, sprinkle, marinate and sauce it up,” said Humble and Frank Foods president Megan Du Preez.

“We are looking forward to this great partnership with Humble and Frank and the Star Group,” said Taly Nechushtan, CEO of InnovoPro. “We’re thrilled to share forces with such innovative companies and jointly introduce new and unique nutritious, great-tasting, and sustainable plant-based food solutions in the Canadian market.”

“The Star Group is thrilled to be apart of this exciting new project. Canadians have long been leaders in agronomy, food sciences and the development of innovative food products, and so the combination of all three, with the leadership of three dynamic companies, is truly a golden opportunity. We are proud to be involved and look forward to contributing to the future of Canadian food production,” said Star lab director Jon Karwacki.

A total of $2.8 million is being invested into this project, with PIC investing $1.4 million and the consortium members investing the remainder.

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