ChickP Protein, Ltd. has successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of its patented chickpea isolate as a plant-based protein alternative for cheese analogs. The foodTech start-up has created prototypes of chickpea-powered cream cheese and firm cheddar cheese that are highly nutritious and match real dairy cheese in appearance and flavor.
ChickP’s breakthrough formulations have the potential to revolutionize the plant-based food industry by providing manufacturers with an ingredient that can fast-track the customization of plant-based cheese products that genuinely respond to consumers’ cravings for a delicious cheesy experience. The company’s expanding line of plant-based alternative prototypes includes egg-free mayonnaise, ice-cream, and chickpea-based barista coffee creamer, highlighting the functional versatility of ChickP’s ingredient.
According to a survey conducted by the Smart Protein Project in 10 countries, cheese is the leading animal-based food product, with individual consumption averaging between one to six times per week. However, the same report indicates a strong willingness to shift to plant-based versions, in conflict with an overall dissatisfaction with the taste, texture, and value of products currently on the market. With demand for plant-based cheese expected to reach a market value of USD7 billion by the end of 2030, ChickP’s breakthrough formulations are poised to help manufacturers meet this demand while addressing consumer concerns.
“Flexitarians dominate the consumer market for dairy alternatives,” said 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’s chickpea isolate is a proprietary, high-functioning formula that embodies a 90% whole protein composition and provides a powerful and nutritional boost to plant-based food applications. The isolate is also clean-label with a neutral flavor, making it a highly versatile ingredient to work with.
The company’s cream cheese formulation combines the isolate with water, coconut oil, and starch. The 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,” said 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 has also developed 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. The firm cheese 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 is currently developing analogues of other popular cheeses, including emmental, parmesan, and mozzarella, and is working with global alternative dairy producers and traditional dairy manufacturers to help them tailor signature cheese products. ChickP will provide them with raw materials, recipe, and technical expertise.