Seeing the potential in Canadian plant protein

Humble and Frank Foods President Megan Du Preez, Co-founders Brad Du Preez and Adrian Turchet. Photo provided by Humble and Frank Foods Ltd.

Chickpeas aren’t a new member of the plant-based value chain, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of potential in their future. Victoria-based Humble and Frank Foods Ltd. wants to help the versatile chickpea reach that potential, through a collaborative effort to turn it into the featured ingredient in everything from salad dressings to beverages.

“Chickpeas are a unique item for protein and their properties … they carry more protein, let’s call it ‘bang for bean’ in comparison to other pea proteins,” President of Humble and Frank Megan Du Preez said. “This particular product, it’s fantastic to work with, both from a flavour and a texture profile, which is so important when you’re trying to develop these types of products that are really integral for texture, especially.”

Featuring chickpeas in more liquid-based items such as sauces and salad dressings is a strategic move on the part of Humble & Frank. Such products tend to be used on a daily basis, giving consumers the opportunity to add a boost of plant-based protein to their plates easily and without having to make significant changes to their diet or meal plans.

The protein content of their chickpea products was an important element of Humble & Frank’s collaborative Protein Industries Canada project. Working with InnovoPro and The Star Group, Humble & Frank used Canadian-grown chickpeas to develop new ingredients that could easily be incorporated into liquid products—ingredients that had the right texture and flavour profile, without having to be heavily masked.

Humble and Frank President Megan Du Preez, Protein Industries Canada Program Specialist Sai Vanga, Humble and Frank Co-Founder Adrian Turchet. Photo provided by Humble and Frank Foods Ltd.

Du Preez expounded on the comprehensive effort involved in collaborative formulation trials, emphasizing that the pleasant surprise of a product's taste, the appealing texture, or even a visually stimulating colour enhancement isn't accidental, but the result of meticulous work and innovation.

“These aren't simply fortunate discoveries,” Du Preez noted, “they are the culmination of extensive trials, continuous experimentation, and dedicated collaboration.”

These pleasant surprises came from Humble & Frank’s willingness to push the boundaries of innovation—something Du Preez recommends all companies in the business of developing new products take the time to do. Though she added that having complementary partners can make such an endeavour significantly easier, as they’ll be willing to take development risks with you while providing feedback along the way.

"Our approach is to push boundaries and take our product to the very pinnacle of its potential," she said. "Our team is single-mindedly focused on making our recipes as delicious as possible—aiming for that five-star standard. It's about identifying the necessary steps and enhancements to achieve that standard, focusing on optimization rather than any form of reduction or compromise."

Humble & Frank’s willingness to take risks and take well-known ingredients into new realms means their chickpea products aren’t the end of their innovative product releases. Du Preez expects the company will continue to improve its current products in existing categories, while looking for opportunities to expand into new categories.

"Both initiatives will be anchored in the utilization of Canadian plant-based protein sources, underscoring our commitment to supporting local agriculture. As we continue to innovate, our focus is incorporating these high-quality, Canadian-sourced proteins into our food, ultimately providing a superior product rooted in Canadian resources."