The stabilised 100% chickpea flour, Westhove Chickpea, is a clean label ingredient produced using LCI’s patented process, Farigel, which increases the product’s shelf life to 12 months.
Dr Walter Lopez, nutritionist at LCI, said that the longer shelf-life is unique and an important factor for producers when using an ingredient that will be used in smaller quantities.
“It is important to have a stable raw material product, especially when you are using it in applications that require a smaller quantity of the ingredient, for example, biscuits or snacks,” Lopez said.
He said that the chickpea flour is “a gluten-free, natural thickener that is allergen free and so can substitute cereal flours or soya.”
The gluten-free market was an important focus for LCI, he added, as it is a large and growing market.
The Farigel treatment reduces microbial and enzymatic activities due to specific conditions of temperature and pressure, Lopez told FN, but explained that the process is patented and exact details are confidential.
The process also increases the functionality of the flour itself, he said, increasing viscosity power and enabling debacterization while sustaining all the nutritional contents.
“As with pulses, chickpeas are naturally rich in proteins, fibres, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc, and are low in fat,” he said, and so due to the processing, “the traditional nutritional benefits of chickpeas remain unchanged.”
The ingredient also reduces preparation time during production, as it is ready to use, Lopez said.
Often, chickpeas are not used in food formulations due to the long preparation time required with soaking, grinding and cooking, he added.
According to Ewa Hudson, an analyst at Euromonitor, “gluten-free remains one of the most dynamic health and wellness categories.”
Packaged Facts noted that North America and Europe continue to dominate the global market.
Euromonitor research forecasts the global gluten-free food market in 2011 to be worth $2.67m.
In Western Europe alone it was pegged at €808.3m in 2010 for Western Europe alone and in Eastern Europe, €77m.
The chickpea flour will initially be available on the European market but will eventually be introduced to the export market in Asia or America, Lopez said.