March 23, 2023

‘Food upcycling’: Hilcona’s new plant-based egg alternatives from chickpea water

Hilcona initiative “added value for food”. Instead of a waste product, the super ingredient ensures a culinary high.

Lots of protein and plenty of fiber – hummus is considered very healthy. The vegetarian Hilcona competence center in Landquart in the canton of Graubünden is currently one of the leading manufacturers of hummus and tofu in a wide variety of flavors. For many years, Hilcona has made the appreciation of food and the avoidance of food waste a central goal. The fact that chickpeas can be used in a variety of ways in vegetarian and vegan cuisine is nothing new. What is new, however, is that chickpea water is currently becoming the super ingredient in natural plant-based egg alternatives.

Generation of natural plant-based egg alternatives

There are many projects and ideas in Switzerland with the aim of closing food cycles and making better use of resources. And thus reduce the waste of food and resources. When making hummus, chickpeas are boiled in water until soft. This creates a lot of cooking water. What was previously considered a waste product is now experiencing a culinary high among the experts. Instead of generating tons of waste water, there is a new Hilcona cooperation with the Swiss start-up “EggField”. New plant-based egg substitute products are made from the chickpea cooking water. “We are thus returning the cooking water as a “by-product” of hummus production to the cycle and thus ensuring a new generation of natural plant-based egg alternatives. The numbers speak for themselves. Last year we were able to bring around 24 tons of chickpea water back into circulation. That corresponds to around 300,000 plant-based egg substitute products. Our goal for this year is clear. We want to double the quantities to 600,000 egg substitute products,” emphasized Angela Blattmann, Hilcona Sales Manager B2B Industry.

Valuing food instead of throwing it away

“Food upcycling” is the name of the eating trend. The aim is to give food more value again. And at the same time keeping as many by-products as possible that occur during the processing of food in the food cycle.

Silvan Leibacher, David Ebneter and Riet Steiger, founders of EggField, use vegetable proteins and ingredients, including chickpea water, to produce egg substitutes for their customers better use.” Riet Steiger, CFO and Head of Supply Chain at EggField is convinced. “But the products must always taste good. Sustainability alone is not enough. Processed chickpea water can be used as a functional ingredient in cooking and baking without reminiscent of the taste of the legume. In addition, it is free of allergens, has a longer shelf life than eggs and is less susceptible to salmonella and other problematic germs. That’s why chickpea water not only enriches vegan cuisine perfectly,” explained Steiger.

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