Pulse crop strategy aims to broaden pulse demand

A new market development goal for Canada’s pulse crop industry hopes to create demand in use categories where pulses aren’t yet a major player.

Pulse Canada’s board on Wednesday released a new target dubbed “25 by 2025,” under which the Canadian pulse crop grower/processor industry “will marshal its resources to create new demand in new use categories for 25 per cent of its productive capacity.”

For example, the Winnipeg-based organization said in a release, “snack foods, tortillas and breakfast cereals are just a few product categories that represent growth potential for pulse ingredients.”

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In those categories, the group said, pulses can provide processors with “protein, fibre, slowly digestible starch and an unparalleled environmental sustainability story.”

Pulse Canada’s new demand target comes as the industry considers its sustainable growth strategy, the group said.

Canada’s pulse industry in 2016 booked a 28 per cent increase in lentil production and a 51 per cent increase in pea production over the previous year, the group said Wednesday.

The number of food products containing pulse ingredients launched in North America grew by about 30 per cent in 2016, the group added, led by the snack foods category.

Reformulating food products to include pulses can “significantly increase their nutritional quality while lowering their environmental footprint,” the group said. For example, reformulating durum pasta to include 25 per cent lentil flour can increase fibre content by 100 per cent and protein content by 25 per cent, while lowering its carbon footprint by up to 26 per cent.

“Our traditional markets will always be a top priority for us and we’ll continue to invest into improving service and product quality for Canada’s long-standing customers,” said Pulse Canada chairman Lee Moats, who farms at Riceton, Sask., southeast of Regina.

“Pulse ingredients are also attracting a lot of attention from non-traditional markets and we need to ensure that we sharpen our focus on that new demand in order to diversify our options and deliver the value we know that pulse ingredients can add to a wide range of new food products.”

Quoting Statistics Canada data, Pulse Canada noted over 8.4 million tonnes of pulses were produced in Canada in 2016, making them Canada’s fifth largest crop after wheat, canola, corn and barley.

Canada today is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of dry peas and lentils and exports pulses to over 150 countries, Pulse Canada said, but the group has previously noted shifts in its traditional markets.

The majority of pulses sold from Canada have been shipped in whole form to low-income countries, Pulse Canada said in a 2009 strategy document. Processed food products using pulses as ingredients represented only about one per cent of new launches at the time, the group added.

Pulse Canada in 2009 also noted global pulse consumption was increasing at a “slightly lower” rate compared to the rate of population increase. Canada’s growth rate in pulse trade, though, was “much higher than the rate of increase in global pulse consumption.”

Urbanization and rising incomes have changed diets and historically helped reduce per capita pulse consumption, Pulse Canada said at the time.

The United Nations found the majority of the world’s population was classified as urban for the first time starting in 2007, Pulse Canada said, also noting urbanization is rising in low- and middle-income countries at faster rates than in higher-income countries.

Increased consumption of protein from meats is directly correlated to rising gross domestic product (GDP), Pulse Canada added, noting processed food consumption also grows with urbanization and increased GDP. — AGCanada.com Network

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