Israeli foodtech company InnovoPro raised $4.25 million in a funding round led by the investment arm of Migros, Switzerland’s largest retailer, and Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) founder and chairman Erel Margalit, the firm announced on Tuesday. Additional investors included Bits x Bites, China’s first venture capital fund that invests in food technologies, and Ran Tuttnauer, former owner of the Tuttnauer Group, ID Capital from Singapore and Yara ventures from Spain.
InnovoPro, which developed a 70 percent protein concentrate from chickpeas, said it will use the new capital to scale its production, support sales and expand into strategic global markets.
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InnovoPro has created sustainable food products made from the plant-based protein, including dairy and meat alternatives, snacks such as dairy-free pudding and ice cream, and condiments like egg-free mayonnaise. Its products are non-GMO, non-allergenic, and gluten-free.
The market for plant-based protein is estimated today at $40 billion. However, InnovoPro is targeting the even-larger, $900-billion market of meat, fish and poultry, which is searching for new opportunities for providing protein-rich products, it said in a statement.
“In view of the global food scarcity issues, the world cannot continue consuming meat and dairy food as it does today,” said 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.”
“We believe that developing a tasty, gluten-free food ingredient could provide the answer to the rising demand for plant-based protein products.” Nechushtan explained, “While the chickpea protein competes against other plant proteins, it features a different behavior pattern,” said Taly Nechushtan, Innovopro CEO.
“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. At the same time, these consumers will not compromise on the product’s taste,” she added.
Eliana Zamprogna, chief technology officer at Migros’ M-Industry, said the investment will provide the firm “with access to a pioneering and high-quality source of protein that we can use in a large number of our vegetarian and vegan products.
“Furthermore, the technological expertise of InnovoPro opens up new product applications for us in the areas of dairy alternatives, meat alternatives, desserts and sauces,” she added.
The first products based on chickpea proteins are being developed and will be launched in 2019, said Zamprogna.