Tate & Lyle has acquired ‘substantially all of the assets’ of US chickpea innovator Nutriati for an undisclosed sum. The Virginia-based food tech company has developed a patented process to produce functional chickpea proteins and flours, marketed under its Artesa ingredient brand.
The deal will enhance Tate & Lyle’s capabilities in the burgeoning market for chickpea-based proteins. “We are delighted that several key members of the Nutriati team have joined Tate & Lyle. This will further enhance our strong existing engineering and formulation teams,” Susanna Palatucci, Tate & Lyle’s Global Head of Health & Wellness, told FoodNavigator.
The acquisition, Palatucci said, is complementary to Tate & Lyle’s existing ingredient portfolio. “Fortification and Mouthfeel solutions are two strategic platforms to drive the T&L business going forward. This partnership expands and complements our existing ingredients portfolio perfectly and allows us to offer an even wider range of solutions with these benefits.”
Unlocking pulse potential
While chickpea protein isn’t currently produced at scale by any of the major ingredient suppliers, there is growing interest and investment in the ingredient which, many believe, offers the potential to create better-tasting meat and dairy alternatives.
According to Palatucci, the market for chickpea protein is likely to increase globally. “Pulse proteins across the globe are seeing record growth driven by their important role in plant-based alternative formulation.”
Nutriati’s chickpea ingredient was launched in 2018 and – while it isn’t a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids – it achieves a digestibility score of 93% and a PDCAAS of 0.82, towards the top end for plant-proteins.
Artesa is white, odourless and neutral tasting, without the beany taste often associated with pulse-based protein ingredients, co-founder and CTO Michael Spenelli told FoodNavigator-USA in a recent interview. Nutriari's IP-protected process delivers a uniform particle size that offers benefits in areas like solubility and binding. “When you look at foaming, mouthfeel and viscosity, we can offer functionality that you don’t get from some other plant proteins,” he claimed.
Palatucci agrees that Nutriati’s solution offers important functional performance gains that help it to stand out from other plant-based proteins that are currently commercially available. “Not only is the Artesa chickpea protein offering a more neutral flavour than alternatives such as pea, we also see great functional benefits – for example it is more soluble in comparison to some other proteins making it easier to use in key applications such as beverages and dairy analogues. We are also excited by the properties of the Artesa chickpea functional flour, with its highly functional gelling properties making it ideal for egg replacement solutions,” we were told.
“Artesa chickpea ingredients have a unique set of functional properties and provide a very clean flavour and colour when compared to other alternatives. Artesa chickpea ingredients also deliver on leading food and beverage claims [such as] clean label and have multiple sustainability benefits.”
In addition to Nutriati’s chickpea know-how, the deal also offers other positives, Tate & Lyle’s Palatucci continued: “By bringing the technology in house, it will allow us to more quickly integrate the portfolio and effectively manage the supply. In expanding our plant-based portfolio of customer offerings, we are demonstrating our commitment to sustainably source ingredients.”
Accelerated ambitions for future growth
Integrating the Nutriati business into Tate & Lyle will allow the chickpea supplier to go from strength to strength, leveraging the larger company’s sales, distribution and supply chain expertise. This builds further on a distribution agreement the companies entered into six months ago, Palatucci explained.
“The strength of these ingredients combined with Tate & Lyle’s portfolio and supply reliability is appreciated by customers, resulting in a strong pipeline built since the distribution agreement was put into place.
“We will be integrating Nutriati so we can leverage our teams to continue to develop the business and our focus will be on enhancing the solution set we can offer to customers in this space," she suggested.
“Since establishing Nutriati, we have worked to solve taste, nutrition, functionality and sustainability challenges for the plant-based and gluten free markets. With a global reach and strong focus on health and wellbeing, Tate & Lyle is very well positioned to develop this offering," added Michael Todd, Chief Executive of Nutriati.
No factories were acquired as part of the deal, however Tate & Lyle said it ‘looks forward’ to continuing to partner with the tolling manufacturers who have ‘been with Nutriati from the start’.