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The new brand’s plant-based lead ingredient pairs with coffee in milk form, can add nutrients to ramen, and is said to be more sustainable than other protein alternatives, but you’ve probably never heard of it.

The star of WhatIf’s product portfolio is what he calls BamNut, or bambara nut, a legume native to Africa. Food scientists broke it in recent years as an underutilized crop that could help improve global nutrition. Bambara nut contains the best attributes for you including almost 24% protein, 5.5% fiber and rich in minerals.

Its taste, according to WhatIf co-founder and CEO Christoph Languallner, can be described as nutty or earthy.

“It’s not almonds, it’s not soy, it’s BamNutty,” Languallner said.

WhatIf Foods is headquartered in Singapore, with factories in Malaysia and Australia, and its BamNuts sourced from Ghana. Last month, the company opened an office in Los Angeles, launching its first two products in the US, Noodles with Nuts and Milk with Nuts. on your site. The company told Food Dive that it is completing the logistics of delivering groceries to major retail chains and food service providers in the coming months.

Initially, WhatIf did not plan to produce food products. Instead, in 2014, he started as a science incubator in Singapore, Langwallner said, exploring how biodiversity could be put back into food. Languallner, originally from Austria, first learned about the bambara nut a few years earlier when he met a professor at the University of Nottingham who called it one of the “crops of the future” that could become a staple.

“We are redesigning in an attempt to bring back biodiversity to not only keep farmers healthy and sustainable, but also bring more colors and textures to consumers’ plates and be part of this journey towards a varied diet,” Languallner said.

The name of the company appeared after Langwallner and his team asked the question: “what if” questions such as “What if we could find a way to make instant noodles, smoothies, soups, and plant-based milks healthy?” Along with all food being plant-based, WhatIf uses the phrase “planet-based” to describe their process of using regenerative agriculture to grow their ingredients. along with its promise to avoid artificial ingredients.

Making room for ramen was a significant effort for the company as it acquired technology that allowed the noodles to be cooked by air frying. without any of the deep frying that other brands use in their production process. Its ramen varieties include BamNut, moringa, pumpkin, and charcoal.

According to Languallner, WhatIf ramen actually has a longer shelf life than regular ramen, thanks to the company’s patented air-roasting technology.

“The limiting factor for shelf life of instant noodles is rancidity caused by deep frying, and since we don’t deep fry, our ramen has a longer shelf life.”

WhatIf says their ramen is a healthier alternative in a space dominated by deep-fried instant noodles, as the bambara nut adds protein and nutrients. According to the company, ramen contains three times more dietary fiber than regular meals.

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Courtesy of WhatIf Foods

New areas for bambara nut

Just as WhatIf used bambara nuts to improve ramen, it also tried to improve the quality of plant-based milk. As other plant-based milks flooded the market, WhatIf worked to refine and simplify the BamNut Milk recipe by combining it with a few ingredients: water, bambara nuts, coconut oil, shea butter and added vitamins. Milk is available in three flavors: Everyday, Barista (designed for coffee) and Airy. Last this is the light version which the company says goes well with smoothies or bubble tea. The drink has a more nutty flavor than other plant-based milk options, according to Whatif.

The product also has a shorter ingredient list than many other plant-based milks, according to the company.

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