Plantible and ICL Unveil “Revolutionary” Clean-Label Alternative to Methylcellulose Made with Duckweed

US duckweed ingredients company Plantible Foods and ICL Food Specialties, a leading manufacturer of functional ingredients, have introduced ROVITARIS, a “revolutionary” clean label binding solution for plant-based meat and seafood applications. 

ROVITARIS is described as a functional protein system designed to replace chemically processed binders, such as methylcellulose, without compromising the taste and texture of foods. Moreover, it makes plant-based meat products “taste better and perform more authentically,” says Plantible.

The new ingredient features RuBisCO, a protein that Plantible extracts from the aquatic plant Lemna (duckweed) commercialized as the Rubi Protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids and can mimic the functions of animal proteins, including emulsifying and binding. The Rubi Protein is also neutral in color, odor, and flavor. 

“Plant-based protein formulators have been searching for a clean label, highly functional replacement for chemically derived binders, such as methylcellulose, for years,” says Rado Sporka, vice president of the Food Specialties Commercial Business for ICL. 

The launch is part of a multi-year commercial agreement between the companies to develop new plant-based ingredient toolkits using the Rubi Protein. ROVITARIS, their first product, will be commercially available in the US in 2024. 

Plantible Foods and ICL Food Specialties introduce ROVITARIS, a clean label binding product for plant-based meat and seafood applications.
© ICL Food Specialties

Plant-based food innovation

Duckweed is considered one of the world’s most sustainable and nutrient-dense plants. Without using land or pesticides, it requires ten times less water per kilogram of protein than soy and doubles in mass every 48-72 hours.

Based in San Diego, Plantible operates a duckweed aquafarm at its R&D facility in Vista, California, and a 140-acre commercial production facility in Eldorado, Texas. Since duckweed protein is self-GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) in the US, Plantible has introduced its Rubi Protein and Rubi Whisk, a plant-based egg replacer for baking goods, pasta, and other applications. 

“This highly functional, nutritious protein (…) enhances the taste, texture, and nutrition of virtually any food application”

In 2021, the company raised $21.5 million to further develop its proprietary protein extraction platform and commercialize products. To date, reportedly, Plantible has received investments from Korean CJ CheilJedang and Kellogg’s venture arm eighteen94 capital, raising over $30 million. 

“This highly functional, nutritious protein, derived from sustainably grown Lemna, enhances the taste, texture, and nutrition of virtually any food application. Working with the team at ICL to develop and commercialize this groundbreaking solution provides a great opportunity to breathe new life into plant-based food innovation,” says Tony Martens, co-founder of Plantible Foods.

Plantible Foods is showcasing the new product at SupplySide West 2023 (booth 2130). For more information on ROVITARIS, a white paper is available at ICL Food Specialties.  

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