Natural Products Expo East

Equii expands line of high-protein bread to meet demand for better-for-you products that are better for the planet

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fermentation Protein

When most people think about protein, they think about meat, dairy – maybe legumes – but food-tech newcomer Equii wants them to also think about bread, including its portfolio of soft, sliced white and multi-grain loaves that are packed with 8 to 10 grams of protein per slice.

At Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia, Equii doubled its portfolio of bread with the debut of two new loaves that offer slightly less protein than its original two SKUs with 8 instead of 10 grams per slice, but in exchange each slice delivers three grams of fiber – a shortfall nutrient, that like protein, is increasingly on consumers’ radar for its functional benefits.

With the first two products, Equii “did what we thought was impossible to do, which is to put 10 grams of complete protein in one slice,” ​company co-founder and CEO Monica Bhatia told FoodNavigator-USA. She added this is a “paradigm shift” in that it allows bread to be “transported” from just a source of carbs to one of protein.

The second two SKUs, launched at Natural Products Expo East, respond to consumers’ request for more fiber without altering the soft chew, crumb and flavor of the bread.

Equii offers sustainable protein to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population

The balance of carbs and protein -- and now the addition of fiber -- in Equii's bread underscore the brand’s mission and the proposition of the company’s name, said Bhatia.

“Equii comes the word equal. We wanted a product that is equally nutritious, as well as delicious, because when we talk about food, consumers want to eat nutritious food, healthy food, but they want it to taste good, also. And that is when it becomes food that is part of our daily lives,”​ she explained.

The company also wanted to create products that were healthier for the planet, and by starting with a high protein bread, Bhatia said she believes Equii can help offset reliance on animals for high quality protein.

“We have to think about the world moving toward a population of 10 billion people, and no matter how we slice it, we must meet everybody’s daily nutritional requirements. And right now, those requirements are met through animal protein, when we talk about proteins as macronutrients,”​ she said.

But as the population expands, that model becomes untenable from a sustainability perspective, she added, noting projections that emissions from animal agriculture will increase to 30% by 2030.

“We chose bread … because bread is such a democratic product,”​ and a vehicle for “solving this problem of sustainable proteins on a global scale, which is immediately adoptable today,” she explained.

‘It is not every day that you get a complete protein’

The company is able to boost the protein and lower the carb content in its bread by leveraging a proprietary, non-GMO technology that begins with an algorithm to identity and study microbial proteins.

“So far, we’ve studied 1,300 microbes and we have a library of 45 that have complete proteins. So, it is not every day that you get a complete protein,” Bhatia said.

These microbes are added to grains, where they break down some of the carbohydrates to release sugars that are then converted to a complete protein. Equii then isolates that protein and uses it in recipes, such as its four breads, as well as crackers and pasta.

By fermenting the grains directly, instead of refined sugar, Bhatia said Equii’s process is more efficient and less expensive than other processes.

Beyond bread

Bread is just the starting point for Equii, said Bhatia, who explained the flour the company creates is the real powerhouse and be used to make better-for-you versions of other grain-based goods, like crackers or pizza crust.

While options abound, Bhatia said the company is focused next on creating a high protein pasta that will have the same taste and texture of conventional pasta.

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