by Jennifer Grebow: A new plant-protein source is coming to market, and it is grown using a closed-system technique
that its supplier says ensures purity and the absence of pesticides and contaminants. Hinoman (Tel Aviv, Israel) will unveil the new plant protein, called mankhai, at next month’s Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo.
Mankhai is part of the Lemnaceae (duckweed) vegetable family, a wetland plant found floating on water surfaces. Hinoman will produce mankhai using hydroponic technology that uses water, not soil, to grow. This patent-pending process not only eliminates contamination from pesticides and other residues, but it also enables continuous, year-round growing in controlled conditions, with minimal water, arable land, and energy use, the company says.
“Since Mankhai does not sprout from seeds, it grows quickly and there is no germination-failure risk,” the company adds on its website. “Hinoman’s proprietary, eco-friendly cultivation system utilizes closed-environment, yet economically competitive, advanced hydroponics technology to completely control and optimize the plants’ growth.”
As a protein source, mankhai is protein rich, Hinoman says. The whole-leaf vegetable protein has a superior nutritional profile to superfoods like kale, spinach, and spirulina, the company asserts, including all nine essential amino acids, iron and zinc, fatty acids, and vitamins A, B12, and E. “The plant comprises a complete protein, a mighty 45%+ on a dry-weight basis,” Hinoman’s website says. Plus, the company points out, it has a neutral taste—unlike algae—that makes its inclusion in whole-food supplements or foods easier, including in protein shakes, sports nutrition products, and nutrition bars.
Udi Alroy, Hinoman’s vice president of business development, says the eco-friendly cultivation process can be scaled to industrial levels. The technology can also be used to grow other vegetable ingredients, he adds, declining to provide more specifics at this time.
“Upon being harvested 100% of the leaf is used, which eliminates waste,” Hinoman says. “Labor costs are also kept to a minimum with the automated state-of-the-art agro technology.”
“We hope our high-tech technology can contribute not just to reducing global malnutrition challenges, but also toward how people will eat healthy, sustainable food in the future,” said Hinoman CEO Ron Salpeter in a press release.
The company says mankhai “checks all the boxes” for important attributes, including: good taste, health benefits, scalable volume, continuity of supply, price stability, food safety, and sustainability.