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Pulse raising: Grain legume market grows by 37 per cent in Europe

Posted: 13 February 2018 | | No comments yet

Meat substitutes have helped drive soaring market interest in pulses, or grain legumes, across Europe, a recent study has found.

Legume

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In four years between 2013 and 2017, exactly 27,058 new legume products went on the market worldwide. This was the result of research conducted by Carla Teixeira and her team from the industry partner PortugalFoods in cooperation with scientists of Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) within the framework of the EU project TRUE.

Products containing grain legumes such as beans, lentils or soybeans have registered an increase of 39 per cent in Europe, the highest growth area. Meat substitutes proved particularly successful with a rate of 451 per cent on the European market.

“The most active region was the United Kingdom, with a share of 19 per cent of total new legume-inclusive product launches in Europe, followed by France (14 per cent) and Germany (13 per cent),” João Ferreira, a student at the UCP-based institute of the TRUE deputy coordinator, Prof. Marta Vasconcelos, said.

The scientists chose this particular period of time for their research to evaluate the impact of the International Year of Pulses, which was proclaimed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2016, sought to increase public awareness of the benefits of pulses, concerning health, sustainable development and food security.

The growing consumer concerns in matters such as health and environment, encouraged the Food Industry to focus its product development in line with these interests.

“The product sub-categories with the highest increment were meat substitutes, with an amazing growth rate of 451 per cent, Pasta, with an increase of 295 per cent, and Bean-based Snacks, growing by 128 per cent,” said Carla Teixeira.

The types of legumes processed showed some changes, as well: although green beans were still the legume most often processed as of mid-2017, their overall share decreased by 23 per cent compared to 2013. Chickpeas, on the other hand, increased by 47 per cent and lentils by 8 per cent.

In part due to the health claims of the legume products, an increase of 196 per cent for vegan products and of 73 per cent for gluten-free products could be observed. This corresponds to the global market trend.

The conclusions of the researchers: since 2013, the food industry in Europe has increased both the diversity and the quantity of legume products. Thus, the 2016 International Year of Pulses is shown to have had a significant effect.

“It is clear that the European Food Industry has increased the number and type of products that incorporate legumes in their composition, suggesting that the IYP2016 was successful at making legumes more available to the European consumers”, said Ana Gomes, researcher at UCP.

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