Newswise — Moscow, Idaho – Feb. 5, 2021 – Pulses, including chickpeas, lentils, dry peas and beans, are showing up on more American’s plates, and not by coincidence. Due in part to shifting consumer shopping and cooking behavior during the pandemic, as well as a concerted effort by government organizations to encourage consumers to eat more pulses, the ingredients have seen a 40 percent increase in sales and, according to data from the Mintel GNPD, nearly 1,600 new products containing pulses launched in 2020.
The ingredients’ recognition goes beyond quarantine cooking, as global entities recognize the positive effect pulses can have on human and planetary health. The United Nations (UN) – which previously designated 2016 the International Year of Pulses – dubbed February 10th “World Pulses Day,” an annual holiday to increase awareness of the benefits of pulses and encourage consumers to enjoy pulses on the day. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also recognized pulses – specifically beans, peas and lentils – in its latest rendition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend consumers eat pulses across all life stages due to their high nutrient-density.
“For centuries, cultures around the world have incorporated pulses into their lifestyle as part of a healthy diet,” said Becky Garrison, Director of Domestic Marketing for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. “Historically, American consumption of pulse ingredients has lagged, but given pulses’ many benefits for personal health, their contribution to sustainable food systems, and the role they play in popular diets – like the Mediterranean and Flexitarian diets – we’ve seen a dramatic surge in domestic demand. Plus, with so many new applications like pea pasta and chickpea flour, it’s even easier to add pulses to your plate.”
With the Dietary Guidelines for Americans now recommending adults consume 1-3 cups of beans, peas or lentils per week, the trajectory is expected to continue. Plant-forward organizations, like Meatless Monday, are also enthusiastic about the increase in pulse popularity, which furthers their mission to increase plant-forward eating.
“We often recommend pulses for anyone looking to do Meatless Monday or anyone looking for ideas to incorporate more plant-based proteins in their diet,” said Dana Smith, campaign director at Meatless Monday. “Pulses are incredibly versatile, inexpensive, and can easily be subbed in for meat in tacos, chili and lasagnas, topped on pastas and salads, and so much more.”
Pulses contain high levels of fiber, plant-based protein and other essential nutrients, and have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food groups, as they require less nitrogen fertilizers, land and water to produce. The ingredients are also affordable when compared to other protein sources, and grow in varying climates, making them accessible for populations around the world.
About the American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council (collectively USA Pulses) The USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council and American Pulse Association are a coalition of non-profit organizations devoted to increasing the consumption of pulse crops (dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, and beans). The USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council was established in 1965 and represents multiple grower and industry organizations in the production, marketing, and end-use applications for dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas. The American Pulse Association provides a unified coalition of pulse crop processors, warehouses, exporters, food manufacturers, producers and associate members representing the entire US pulse crop value chain from farm to fork. The American Pulse Association works to fund research focused on the nutrition, functionality, and sustainability of pulse crops. To learn more, check out www.usapulses.org.