Tate & Lyle buys chickpea ingredients company Nutriati

Dive Brief:

  • Tate & Lyle purchased Nutriati, an ingredients company developing and producing chickpea protein and flour, the company said in a statement. No details of the transaction were publicly released.
  • Nutriati has been providing customers with plant-based chickpea ingredients since 2018. Its Artesa Chickpea Protein and Artesa Chickpea Flour can be found in leading non-dairy, plant-based meat and gluten-free brands, mainly in North America.
  • The deal comes six months after Tate & Lyle and Nutriati signed an agreement to distribute the upstart’s ingredients. Chickpeas have become a popular ingredient as companies race to find alternative proteins to meet growing demand for plant-based meat and dairy products.

Dive Insight:

Just four years after introducing its chickpea-derived offerings to the market, Nutriati is joining forces with an ingredients powerhouse best known for its sweeteners, texturizers, fibers and stabilizers. The companies have only been working together for a short few months but Tate & Lyle undoubtedly liked what it has seen during that time.

While chickpea protein is not produced on a commercial scale by any of the large businesses in the plant-protein space, there is growing interest among companies to increase their ingredient options for CPGs developing alternative meat and dairy products. Earlier this year, Ingredion announced an investment in InnovoPro and its chickpea protein products that it said are sustainable, clean label and provide neutral taste while preserving nutritional value, functionality and a desirable texture.

Chickpeas have become a star ingredient in recent years as companies race to find better alternative proteins amid a surge in demand for plant-based milks, meats, yogurts and other offerings. Chickpeas have high levels of protein, and also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. And unlike wheat, soy and nuts, they also can be used to make allergen-free products.

Michael Spinelli, co-founder and chief technology officer at Nutriati, told Food Navigator the company’s protein is white, odorless and neutral-tasting, which makes it attractive for plant-based beverages and ice cream. “When you look at foaming, mouthfeel, and viscosity, we can offer functionality that you don’t get from some of the other [commercially available] plant proteins,” he said.

In a statement, Tate & Lyle said Nutriati’s Artesa Chickpea Flour is an extremely versatile ingredient, creating an opportunity for unique texture and taste profiles in baked goods, snacks and plant-based meats. It contains only 1% fat, which it said is less than other chickpea flours, and can be used to lower the fat content of some products and improve nutrition in gluten-free items.

The acquisition comes as Tate & Lyle considers splitting itself into two entities: Food & Beverage Solutions and Primary Products. Food & Beverage Solutions is the division that produces Tate & Lyle’s newer ingredient innovations, including sugar and calorie reduction, adding fiber and texture, and stabilization. 

Ahead of a potential split, Tate & Lyle has been bolstering the Food & Beverage Solutions division through deals and acquisitions. In the past two years, it has purchased stevia producer Sweet Green Fields, taken an 85% stake in Thailand-based tapioca maker Chaodee Modified Starch and dolled out $237 million to purchase Quantum Hi-Tech (Guangdong) Biological, a prebiotic dietary fiber business in China.

Tate & Lyle CEO Nick Hampton said Nutriati “complements our existing ingredient portfolio.”

The ingredients space has been a hotbed of M&A activity as companies such as Tate & Lyle bulk up their businesses to have a deeper bench of offerings, most notably in spaces like clean label and plant-based that are in demand with shoppers. If a company sells ingredients that play in multiple spaces, it could have an advantage as a one-stop shop for a CPG looking to address several of these attributes rather than needing to buy from multiple suppliers. 

Tate & Lyle’s roots began with sugar refining, but it has spent much of the past few decades diversifying its business. The fact that Tate & Lyle’s recent deals focused on alternative sweeteners, prebiotic dairy fibers and now plant-based proteins is a reflection of its efforts to keep pace with changing trends. With competition from other companies, a clear focus on growing its ingredients business and changing consumer preferences, the 160-year-old firm is likely to maintain its measured pace of dealmaking for the foreseeable future.