Passionate about pulses: Sustainability is the latest food trend

In the past consumers based their favourite foods and products in supermarkets on convenience, taste and price. Food sustainability was not at the forefront of their minds, but this is starting to change.

Today, consumers are food smart and are less likely than previous generations to fall for hype and marketing. Consumers have learned to evaluate food production and are starting to ask more questions. They are seeking increased transparency about how the food they consume is sourced. Many consumers feel that food production needs to go back to more traditional ways in order to heal the environment.

A lentil salad made with pulses from AGT Foods

A delicious and fresh lentil salad is a great way to incorporate more plant based protein, in the form of pulses, into your diet

Meat is not enough

Consumers believe food that is more natural is also more environmentally sustainable. Awareness is continuously growing around the huge amount of land, food, energy and water required to raise animals for human consumption. It has become clear that an animal-based diet is not enough to meet the protein demands of a growing world population, which is leading many people to seek plant-based alternatives. This trend reflects an increased focus on health, wellness, food safety and diet, as well as concerns about animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

One of the best plant-based alternatives is pulses. The nutritional and biological attributes of pulses play a huge role in reducing poverty and hunger and improving sustainability of agro-ecosystems, thus contributing towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In 2012 pulses were recognised by the United Nations for their role in improving environmental sustainability of farming practices.

AGT Food and Ingredients is one of the largest suppliers of value-added pulses, staple foods and food ingredients in the world. AGT produces a full range of pulses and specialty crops, including lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and canary seeds as well as food ingredients such as pulse flours, proteins, starches and fibres.

‘In order to meet consumers’ nutritional needs with fewer resources like energy, water or carbon, we need to use more pulses in our cooking and in our daily diets,’ says George Tomazos, AGT Foods Retail and Food Ingredients, South Africa. ‘Pulses have a lower carbon footprint in production than most animal sources of protein. In fact, one kilogram of legume only emits 0.5kg in CO2 equivalent, whereas 1kg of beef produces 9.5 kg in CO2 equivalent. More than ever, people see food as being intimately connected with wellness and their broader system of values.’

Plant-based eating

While a whole food plant-based diet will always be the best option, plant-based processed foods are appearing more and more on the shelves. A whole food plant-based diet is one that includes whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods. It is made up of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Plant-based eating is becoming more accessible and more convenient than ever before. Lentil pasta, chickpea pasta, pea protein smoothies and veggie burgers are on the rise. Even though processed plant-based food is not necessarily healthy like whole-foods, consumers are happy that there is no animal cruelty and that they are helping decrease their environmental impact.

AGT Foods also produces pulse flours and pea protein for inclusion in the manufacture of a variety of foods, such as cereals, breads, protein powders and bars. The pea protein is non-genetically modified (GMO free) and a hormone free alternative to soya in the baking and food manufacturing industries.

‘While the latest food trend of sustainability is a positive step in improving our planet and the world that we live in, we need to carry on educating consumers as so many are still unaware,’ says Tomazos. ‘We will continue educating consumers on the benefits of pulses, which already play an important role in food security in the developing world and are a cornerstone ingredient in Humanitarian Food Aid.’

In the past consumers based their favourite foods and products in supermarkets on convenience, taste and price. Food sustainability was not at the forefront of their minds, but this is starting to change.

Today, consumers are food smart and are less likely than previous generations to fall for hype and marketing. Consumers have learned to evaluate food production and are starting to ask more questions. They are seeking increased transparency about how the food they consume is sourced. Many consumers feel that food production needs to go back to more traditional ways in order to heal the environment.

Meat is not enough

Consumers believe food that is more natural is also more environmentally sustainable. Awareness is continuously growing around the huge amount of land, food, energy and water required to raise animals for human consumption. It has become clear that an animal-based diet is not enough to meet the protein demands of a growing world population, which is leading many people to seek plant-based alternatives. This trend reflects an increased focus on health, wellness, food safety and diet, as well as concerns about animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

One of the best plant-based alternatives is pulses. The nutritional and biological attributes of pulses play a huge role in reducing poverty and hunger and improving sustainability of agro-ecosystems, thus contributing towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In 2012 pulses were recognised by the United Nations for their role in improving environmental sustainability of farming practices.

AGT Food and Ingredients is one of the largest suppliers of value-added pulses, staple foods and food ingredients in the world. AGT produces a full range of pulses and specialty crops, including lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and canary seeds as well as food ingredients such as pulse flours, proteins, starches and fibres.

‘In order to meet consumers’ nutritional needs with fewer resources like energy, water or carbon, we need to use more pulses in our cooking and in our daily diets,’ says George Tomazos, AGT Foods Retail and Food Ingredients, South Africa. ‘Pulses have a lower carbon footprint in production than most animal sources of protein. In fact, one kilogram of legume only emits 0.5kg in CO2 equivalent, whereas 1kg of beef produces 9.5 kg in CO2 equivalent. More than ever, people see food as being intimately connected with wellness and their broader system of values.’

Plant-based eating

While a whole food plant-based diet will always be the best option, plant-based processed foods are appearing more and more on the shelves. A whole food plant-based diet is one that includes whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods. It is made up of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Plant-based eating is becoming more accessible and more convenient than ever before. Lentil pasta, chickpea pasta, pea protein smoothies and veggie burgers are on the rise. Even though processed plant-based food is not necessarily healthy like whole-foods, consumers are happy that there is no animal cruelty and that they are helping decrease their environmental impact.

AGT Foods also produces pulse flours and pea protein for inclusion in the manufacture of a variety of foods, such as cereals, breads, protein powders and bars. The pea protein is non-genetically modified (GMO free) and a hormone free alternative to soya in the baking and food manufacturing industries.

‘While the latest food trend of sustainability is a positive step in improving our planet and the world that we live in, we need to carry on educating consumers as so many are still unaware,’ says Tomazos. ‘We will continue educating consumers on the benefits of pulses, which already play an important role in food security in the developing world and are a cornerstone ingredient in Humanitarian Food Aid.’



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