Based in Israel, Equinom entered the US market in 2020 with its seed breeding technology that produces non-GMO seed stocks with a strong nutritional profile and organoleptic properties that require less processing than comparable plant-based ingredients.
Under the partnership agreement, AGT will market and sell the co-branded ingredients to food companies in its existing network as well as new customers across the industry.
"Combining our superior grains with AGT expertise, we are eager to see how high the protein content of our co-branded commercial ingredients will be, so we can provide food companies with exciting new options to make plant-based products more delicious, nutritious, sustainable, and affordable," Galit Feinreich, chief marketing officer of Equinom, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Equinom added that it is currently pursuing FDA GRAS status for its pea protein ingredients in the US.
Sensory and nutritional advantages of ultra-high yellow pea protein
"Pea has a lot to offer from multiple standpoints, making it a favored plant protein source for consumers. It’s non-allergenic and naturally high in potassium, iron, and fiber," Feinreich said.
Equinom's ultra-high yellow pea protein, for instance, delivers up to 72% protein content with a comparable PDCAAS (Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score) to conventional pea protein, which is around 0.8. However, the company noted that its pea protein can reach a PDCAAS score of 1 when combined with complementary ingredients such as sesame, oats, and rice protein.
"Equinom Pea Protein offers some additional benefits. For example, it delivers relatively high protein (65-72%) with only a fraction of the sodium of typical pea protein isolates, making it a great choice for non-savory or low sodium applications," noted Feinreich.
"From a sensory perspective, pea offers relatively mild flavor and smooth texture compared to some alternative plant protein sources that can be quite beany or gritty."
It's also more environmentally friendly, noted Equinom, with approximately half the carbon footprint and half water waste of typical pea protein isolates given its minimal processing requirements. It also restores nitrogen in the soil where it's grown serving as a natural fertilizer for other crops.
"We have found that different varieties of peas can perform very differently in terms of functionality in food such as water holding, oil holding, frothing, and gelation properties. This means that our breeding programs enable us to tailor the pea itself to the needs of a specific application, which is unique to the industry. We are the only company we know of with advanced pea varieties bred specifically for food applications," added Feinreich.
'Tremendous potential' in plant-based meat and dairy
Currently a $12bn market, the global plant protein market is forecasted to surpass $17bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7.3%, according to ReportLinker.
And because of its versatility as a food ingredient, Equinom sees several potential applications for its ultra-high yellow pea protein ingredients.
"Yellow pea is full of opportunity and promise both due to its functionality and positive consumer preference. Equinom pea protein can be used in a variety of plant-based food categories. We are seeing tremendous potential with applications in alternative meat and dairy, meal replacement items, and baked goods," said Feinreich.