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Newsletter  Late Summer 2012 Issue


Market Research

The National Pulse of the Global Pulse Industry

North America today lies at
the epicenter of a booming
export market for pulses
(i.e., beans, field peas,
chickpeas). Does this signal
exciting new food product
trends and export opportunities?

The U.S. and Canada, which
collectively dominate world trade
in pulses, are in the race to sate
the world’s craving for protein.
Domestically, North American
consumer perceptions regarding
pulses appear to be poised for
major changes. Pulses, especially, lentils, were once considered “poor
man’s meat”: no longer! Just as
whole-grain breads, brown rice
and potatoes were once
considered foods for economically
deprived people, growing consumer
interest in nutritional value, eating
habits and ethnic foods is evolving
their perceptions of pulses as foods. Witness the astounding growth of
hummus (i.e., chickpea paste), a
$400 million retail product category
with double-digit annual sales growth that barely registered twelve years ago.

All the ingredients for change are there. In Western societies, pulse consumption benefits
from a congruence of trends, including:

  • The increasing impact of immigrant cuisines (e.g., Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern)
    on food choices.
  • Heightened awareness of the unique health benefits of pulses (e.g., dietary fiber,
    lignans, folic acid, amino acid quality, glycemic index improvement, etc.).
  • Increased popularity of vegetarianism (especially among the young).
  • Growing interest in gluten-free products.
  • Continued consumer demand for more protein in their diets. (Some 65% of Gen Y and
    58% of mature consumers in a recent Natural Marketing Institute survey indicated they
    would like more protein in their diet.)
  • Interest in “sustainable foods” (especially among the young).
  • New and improved methods of introducing pulses into foods (e.g., puffed pea
    protein, bean flours, fractionated field peas).

Booming sales of hummus notwithstanding, acceptance of pulses in Western societies
is still early stage.

What pulse product(s) will present the next “hummus” opportunity?

In southern Asia, especially India (where vegetarians comprise a very large population
segment), the key driver to increased pulse consumption is improving incomes and higher
dietary expectations. North America remains the world’s powerhouse producer of pulses and
exports to southern Asia and, on a smaller scale, to the Middle East. Together, the U.S. and
Canada account for approximately 40% of the world’s booming pulses export market and are aggressively establishing themselves in leadership positions in terms of volume, product
quality and prices received. Of the five pulses important to international trade (dry beans, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans and field peas), the U.S. and Canada collectively represent about
70% of lentil and field pea exports, 20% of dry bean exports and 10% of chickpea exports.

BEST VANTAGE Inc. predicts that North American consumer acceptance will continue to drive
demand for pulses internally, even as pressure to export pulses to Asia and the Middle East
grows. We will continue to watch this growth category carefully.

One up-coming event will focus specifically on issues and opportunities in the
protein-enhance food, beverage and nutritional product marketplace. Global Food Forums,
Inc.’s Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar will be held April 10, 2013 at the Double
Tree-Hilton Hotel, Arlington Heights, Ill. (near the Chicago O’Hare airport). One exceptional,
interactive session by Chef Charlie Baggs will provide attendees the opportunity to learn about the culinary and formulation possibilities of pulse-based ingredients.

Other speakers include Judie Dziezak, Esq. presenting information on the regulatory
framework for making protein product claims; Erika Smith, PhD, General Mills providing an
overview of the technical aspects of protein functionality and how to choose protein
ingredients for specific applications; and René Floris,PhD, NIZO speaking on how improved
protein functionality allows these multi-purpose ingredients to replace other functional
ingredients. Other topics will cover global drivers and demands for animal and protein
ingredients, consumer interest and attitudes in proteins and emerging nutritional aspects
of the products.

© 2012 to BEST VANTAGE Inc.

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