Ingredion Research Reveals Europeans' Passion for Pulses

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12 Jul 2017 --- Sixty-five percent of European consumers welcome the addition of pulse-based ingredients to food products according to new research from Ingredion. Those surveyed have an overall positive perception of pulses, with chickpeas (51 percent) and lentils (43 percent) the most widely known pulse flours and proteins, followed by peas and faba beans.

In the 2017 survey, nearly 90 percent of consumers can see benefits of pulses as ingredients and were found to associate pulses with multiple health benefits including natural, low fat and nutritious. Overall, 56 percent of respondents thought pulses were natural and healthy, 38 percent saw them as high in fiber and more than a quarter of respondents considered them to be a good source of minerals and vitamins. There was also recognition of pulses ability to contribute towards fuller for longer diet (37 percent), and provide long lasting energy.

Ingredion, in partnership with AGT Foods, received an IFT17 Food Expo Innovation Award for their clean taste pulse ingredients at this year’s IFT Awards Celebration in Las Vegas, Nevada. Judge comments on the clean-taste pulses included, “Flavor of plant proteins is a major hurdle to acceptance; finding a physical treatment to ameliorate the flavor would be welcome,” and “Innovative; problem-solving; clean label; vegan protein.” You can read the full story here

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst at IFT 17 Yadu Dar (pictured) Director, Strategic Business Development and Alliance Management at Click to EnlargeIngredion said: “This breakthrough product was launched here at IFT and the key benefit is that pulses are very healthy, consumers love them, product developers love them, they have a lot of benefits including high protein content and micronutrients however they can sometimes have earthy beany or bitter flavors that some consumers do not like.”
 
“Our technology helps preserve the nutritional qualities but takes out some of that flavor, which allows develops to have all the nutritional qualities but without the undesirable flavor notes,” he explains. 

“I see this trend continuing,” Dar notes. “Everywhere you look in the food industry consumers are looking for ingredients that give health benefits and pulses are also sustainable food source.”

You can view the full video interview here
 
Janin Zippel, Product Manager Pulses and Rice, Europe at Ingredion explains: “The healthy eating trend is strong across Europe and finding new ways to enhance the nutritional profile of products using ingredients that are both familiar to consumers and deliver the necessary functionality can be challenging. In this respect, the research is really encouraging. Pulses had strong associations with a wide variety of health benefits, but we were surprised by the level of awareness of adding pulses to products and not just in their whole form. This could be down to the continuing demand for natural, more nutritious products but also the growing interest in, and awareness of, vegetarian and vegan diets. As a meat-free alternative that is also gluten-free, pulse ingredients tick many of the boxes for both consumers and manufacturers alike.”
 
The research asked consumers to rank different types of flours and proteins. All pulses were preferred to soy as a source of protein, with lentil protein ranking 53 percent above average and soy protein 16 percent below average, while meat ranked 19 percent above average. Consumers also showed a marked preference for gluten-free flours, with chickpea flour, rice flour and lentil flour all ranking above traditional wheat flours.
 
Janin continues: “We know that following a gluten-free diet as a lifestyle choice rather than for medical needs is becoming more widespread and this may explain the high preference for gluten-free flour alternatives that emerged in our research. The familiarity of pulses and their positive health associations could mean consumers find flours derived from pulses as readily acceptable alternatives, further endorsed by their simple label listing as, for example, chickpea flour.”

“Pulse flours are versatile too, and can be used in a wide variety of applications. It could be chicken nuggets made with a lentil flour batter instead of wheat flour, or meat-free chicken nuggets made with lentil protein, both products were tested on and well received by consumers in our research. We found that by adding lentil protein to a product, 42 percent of those surveyed were more likely to buy.” 

Pulses are high in protein, typically containing between 20 percent to 25 percent protein, which is double that of wheat and this alongside their ease of use as an ingredient, makes them an excellent alternative source to meat. 

Click to Enlarge“One area of concern for consumers that came out of the study was the possible impact of pulses on the taste and color of a product. This highlights that there is still work to be done to educate consumers on the variety of applications that can now benefit from pulses in particular clean-taste products that offer a neutral flavor profile. Manufacturers are already working with these clean taste pulse options in application areas that previously weren’t possible, such as dairy and dairy alternatives, great for vegan products, as well as sweet bakery and cereals.”
  
“Attitudes towards food are changing; many consumers want healthier food that is better for them and adding pulses to products can be a great way to achieve this.”

For further information on pulse trends please see a recent Special Report on product development of pulses. 

by Elizabeth Green

Ingredion Incorporated

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