Consumer interest in pulses
As interest in plant-based protein grows, pulses like beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils are emerging as sustainable, healthy and protein-rich options that are valued by consumers. For example, 56% of consumers have reported trying lentils and 36% report they love or like them more than all other foods (Datassential, 2020).
Whole pulses are readily-available, shelf-stable, affordable, and highly nutritious options. Pulses are also increasingly becoming available in various convenient, shelf-stable, pre-cooked and value-add formats for ease of use in the foodservice environment.
Applications in Foodservice
Pulses can be used in an abundance of ways across menus and day parts, in both commercial and non-commercial foodservice segments.
Bowls are a versatile dish format typically featuring vegetables, whole grains, and plant and/or animal protein and are a great way to feature lentils in a plant-forward, healthful, and trend-forward way while also highlighting globally and seasonally inspired ingredients and flavours. Bowls are currently on 35.7% of U.S. menus, and predicted to grow +14% over the next four years (Datassential 2020).
In addition to their use in plant-based applications, pulses are an excellent choice to blend and extend animal protein in a variety of dishes to reduce costs, improve nutrition and impart sustainability benefits. For example, a blended burger patty consisting of 67% lean beef and 33% Canadian lentils reduced the carbon footprint and cost of the patty while also significantly improving the nutritional profile compared to an all-beef patty.
In addition to whole pulses, pulse ingredients like flours, proteins and fibres are being used in innovative product formats by foodservice. Examples include foodservice products like pulse-based pastas made from pea or lentil flour and breading and coatings that includes pulses. Using pulses in these applications can provide unique functional advantages. For example, work done at the Manitoba Food & Product Development Centre demonstrated that pea flour and starch could replace 100% of corn starch and wheat flour in pre-dust and batter for chicken nuggets. The nuggets formulated with pea ingredients exhibited higher quality after 60 minutes under a heat lamp, and an overall more golden color. When pea fibre was also added to the mix, the nuggets had increased crispiness.
Lentils.org is an in-depth resource for exploring the use of lentils in foodservice applications including scaled recipes, product buying guides, training videos, consumer trends and sustainability information. Visit the site to learn more.