Tiny plants with huge potential: Introducing two new players to the plant-based protein market

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Amino acid

Two firms that generated a lot of buzz at the IFT show this year were Parabel and Hinoman, which are both selling brand new nutrient-packed ingredients from tiny aquatic plants. But do they have what it takes to give more established players in the plant-based protein category a run for their money?

FoodNavigator-USA editor Elaine Watson spoke to Parabel’s marketing manager Cecilia Wittbjer and Hinoman’s VP of marketing and business development Udi Alroy to find out more about the ingredients, which attracted a lot of interest not least because they are non-allergenic and non-GMO.

Parabel: Protein concentrates and isolates

cecilia2
Cecilia Wittbjer: “The water lentil has higher amino acid levels than any other plant protein, including soy.”

Parabel​ - which scooped an I.F.T. Food Expo Innovation Award at the show - was showcasing LENTEIN Plus, a water lentil protein concentrate containing around 65% protein and a lot of micro and macronutrients, but is also working on a protein isolate with up to 90% protein, plus a paler version without such a 'green' hue, said Wittbjer:  

“It has higher amino acid levels than any other plant protein, including soy. People say it has a really nice mouthfeel, the protein is soluble, and has a foaming quality so it works well in beverages. But it can also be used in bars and snacks.

"The water lentil is the world's smallest flowering plant, which reproduces itself in 24 hours so it can be harvested every day, which translates into the highest yield per hectare of any other crop... We grow it in an aquafarm but we recycle 98% of the water, which means our water use is very low compared with other plant proteins."

Hinoman: Whole food ingredients

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Udi Alroy: "We're looking at the whole plant... not a protein isolate or concentrate, it’s a whole food.”

Israeli firm Hinoman​, meanwhile, is working with another vitamin-and-mineral-rich member of the duckweed family called mankai - which it can supply fresh or as a dry whole food powder.

Dubbed the “world’s smallest vegetable​”, mankai has an amino acid profile "similar to egg​" claims Hinoman​, which has developed a hi-tech - and highly-scalable - process designed to grow the plant without pesticides in a closed system such that it consistently produces a whole food ingredient with a protein content of 45-48% by dry weight.  

Production can be done indoors or outdoors in a covered hydroponics system, while computerized methods enable it to be monitored remotely and harvested all-year-round, regardless of the weather, providing pricing stability and keeping labor costs down.

Unlike Parabel, which is homing in on protein - at least to start with, Hinoman is positioning mankai - which is self-determined GRAS (generally recognized as safe) - as a whole food ingredient, said Alroy. “We're looking at the whole plant... not a protein isolate or concentrate, it’s a whole food.”

Available as a fine powder suitable for use in everything from bakery products and sports nutrition products to pasta, mankai has a milder flavor than spirulina, spinach or kale, said Alroy.

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1 comment

can I introduce in India

Posted by srinivas,

I am interested in this regard. please provide all details about the tiny plants

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