A closer look at 2014 Expo East NEXTY Food & Beverage Award winner Banza

A closer look at 2014 Expo East NEXTY Food & Beverage Award winner Banza

Banza receives a Natural Products Expo East NEXTY Award (People's Choice) for its gluten-free, vegan chickpea-based pasta.

Who doesn’t love protein? Judging by the number of high-protein products at Natural Products Expo East 2014, everyone is on track to increase their intake of this vital nutrient linked to increased energy, better weight management through satiety, muscle building and more. And how awesome would it be if you could achieve a higher daily protein goal while chowing down a big bowl of pasta?

Banza to the rescue. With seed money from the Venture for America Innovation Fund and hoping to change the pasta world forever, two energetic brothers from Detroit created this high-protein, high-fiber pasta made of chickpeas and a few other non-GMO ingredients. The low-glycemic pasta cooks quickly, tastes good and, thanks to the ridiculously high 13 grams protein and 7 grams fiber per serving, won’t leave you with a post-pasta blood-sugar crash. It’s also gluten-free—still a huge trend—and vegan, which just goes to show that upping your protein doesn’t necessarily mean slapping a big hunk o’ meat on your plate.

We liked the taste and texture, though with the founders still pushing the envelope, we expect the re-launch of the product in January to be even better. “We’d like to believe that Banza is the next generation of pasta, similar to how Greek yogurt was the next generation of yogurt,” says cofounder Brian Rudolph. “In fact, our mission is for Banza to be the Chobani of Detroit.”

The tasty pasta is already carried in Eataly and all Meijer Grocery Store locations in the Midwest, and Rudolph says shoppers will be able to find it in Sprouts and Shoprite early next year. Buoyed by winning a $75,000 investment from reality show Restaurant Startup, Banza is well on its way to achieving that goal.

The NEXTY nomination and award process is part of New Hope and Sterling-Rice Group’s ongoing research into the trends and opportunities driving the natural, organic and healthy products market. This research is published annually in the NEXT Natural Products Industry Forecast. To learn more or purchase the NEXT Forecast 2015, go to www.nextforecast.com.

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