Lupii: A new plant-based protein comes to vegan bars

Steichen, a well-known vegan blogger and podcast host behind The Plantiful and online meal planning company Buddhalicious, met Dempster last year. Dempster has a background in Big Food, having worked for PepsiCo as senior global marketing manager and prior to that doing marketing and sales work for Carlsberg Group. They described their meeting to Food Dive as “love at first sight,” where they bonded over the need to make highly nutritious plant-based food more available to people.

They united behind this idea to create Lupii, a lupini bean snack company that officially launched this month. Lupii bars, which can be purchased online or at a handful of stores in New York, are clean-label nutrient packed snacks. There are three flavors: Tahini Lemon Cranberry, Almond Butter Cinnamon Raisin and Peanut Butter Cacao Nib. Each bar has nine to 10 grams of protein and eight or nine grams of fiber. They also are non-GMO and made with minimal ingredients. And the beans used in these bars, Steichen said, are smaller “sweet lupini,” which have less natural bitterness.

Dempster told Food Dive the nutritional profile of the lupini bean makes Lupii’s bars stand out in the marketplace, occupying a place where very few vegan bars can be. Protein bars often rely on whey or egg whites for some of their nutrients. When they are plant-based, they often contain heavily processed protein isolates, which Dempster said can be difficult to digest.

“You’re stripping a macronutrient away from the whole food source, and we really believe in trying to get as much nutrition as possible from real whole foods that are minimally adulterated,” Dempster said.

“It’s higher in protein than soy, which is generally considered the highest source of plant protein. … It’s low in carbohydrates, packed with fiber, all the minerals. And then in terms of an ingredient, it’s also super sustainable to grow … And so, from so many angles, it’s just an incredible ingredient.”

Isabelle Steichen

Founder and CEO, Lupii

Steichen said that many other plant-based food products with protein are highly processed and full of extruded proteins and sugary syrups. Plant-based protein ingredients are often dried, pulverized and bleached, and don’t look or taste anything like the plant from which they came. Lupini beans don’t need to have many other ingredients added to be able to work with them, and they also don’t need any more nutrients to enhance their health profile. Lupii also only uses dates to sweeten its products, which Steichen and Dempster touted as more natural than competitors’ sweeteners.

Right now, Lupii is only making bars. Steichen and Dempster said they have many more plans for lupini bean products, especially since the bean has myriad common uses in Europe. It’s often turned into flakes or flour and added to baked goods to make them more nutritious. Lupini has been made into a dairy alternative and ice cream, Steichen said. It’s also been used as an ingredient in veggie burgers and to make tempeh.

While Steichen and Dempster wouldn’t talk yet about their plans for future Lupii products, they said lupini is the answer to what many consumers are looking for, especially when trying to have a less animal-based diet.

“You’re eating an ingredient that is very sustainable and a lot of consumers care about that, too,” Steichen said. “When they eat plant based, health is a first motivator. But then environment is a second. As I mentioned, lupini is a wonderful crop that is good for their health, and so a lot of consumers are looking to think a little bit more about supporting biodiversity, and that’s definitely something that we can support with our product as well.”