Plant Genetics Company NuCicer Unveils Ultra-High Protein Chickpea

December 20, 2021 - 3 min read

Diverse Chickpea Material - NuCicer Diverse Chickpea Material - NuCicer

NuCicer debuts chickpeas with 75% higher protein content developed naturally using wild genetic diversity

Davis, CA, December 20, 2021 — NuCicer, a crop genetics company pioneering new varieties of chickpea, unveiled today ultra-high protein varieties with 75% more protein than conventional chickpeas. The new varieties will cut the cost of chickpea protein nearly in half, making it cost-competitive with other plant proteins such as soy, wheat and pea.

“Chickpeas are the ideal plant protein, with a neutral flavor and color, excellent functionality, and positive consumer sentiment,” said Kathryn Cook, NuCicer co-Founder and CEO. “Now for the first time, NuCicer’s new varieties – the product of ten years of research amassing and crossbreeding the world’s largest and most systematic collection of wild crop progenitors with cultivated chickpea – will enable chickpea protein to outcompete other leading plant proteins like soy, wheat and pea.”

Chickpea is already the third most widely grown grain legume and a significant source of human nutrition worldwide. The United Nations recognizes chickpea and other pulses as a key global crop for our food system and promotes their nutritional and environmental importance through a yearly “World Pulses Day”. NuCicer shares this vision and is reinventing the chickpea as a resilient crop for the future with increased protein content and targeted functional and nutritional properties. The range of new varieties developed by NuCicer will enable more sustainable, affordable plant proteins as well as high-protein, gluten-free flours and whole bean products. Additionally, NuCicer is working to increase yield and production stability by incorporating traits for environmental resilience such as heat and drought tolerance.

NuCicer’s background chickpea germplasm stems from international research projects spanning the last decade led by Professor Douglas R. Cook from the University of California Davis. International researchers trekked through southeastern Turkey with permission from local authorities to collect thousands of samples of wild crop progenitors. By crossbreeding this wild material with cultivated chickpea varieties, scientists expanded available genetic diversity by 40 times and discovered important traits that do not exist in either the cultivated or wild material alone. NuCicer uses this extraordinary genetic potential to bring high-value traits such as increased protein content to market and contributes back to global biodiversity and food security efforts through an international treaty with the Food and Agriculture Organization of  the United Nations. The company is now scaling operations with a plan for commercial protein and flour ingredient production in 2023.

“We are excited by our initial progress and the breadth of opportunity as we begin to partner with leading food and beverage brands,” added Kathryn Cook. “We are in conversations with partners who recognize the opportunity of new ingredients from our high-protein chickpeas and are moving quickly to enable meaningful impact across the agri-food supply chain.”

About NuCicer

NuCicer, Inc. develops novel, high-protein chickpea varieties that enable scalable, sustainable ingredients spanning whole beans, gluten-free flours, and protein ingredients. It partners with growers who are attracted to chickpea’s capacity for nitrogen fixation and interested in NuCicer’s potential to increase the crop’s environmental resilience. NuCicer also partners with ingredient manufacturers and food and beverage companies who recognize the potential of chickpea as a sustainable, functional ingredient. NuCicer combines an industry-leading chickpea germplasm library with cutting-edge genomics-guided, speed breeding technologies to create its all-natural chickpea varieties. For more information, please visit

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