Pulse-based snacks continue to gain ground as a functional choice18 Apr 2022
Pulse-based snacking options such as AirSnax chickpea-based puffed snacks and Tarwi Foods lupin-based hummus in the UK and Hippeas chickpea chips in the US have recently come onto the market as alternatives looking to gain a foothold in the increasingly-crowded, grain-free snacking market.
Grain-free options have been popular for many years as consumers look for alternatives to promote healthier eating habits. While there are multiple alternatives to wheat and rice flour such as cassava, nuts and root vegetables, pulse products have developed a following that has catapulted this flour into one of the top spots in the snacking market. Pulses include chickpeas, peas, lentils and lupin.
Food manufacturers looking to keep their finger on the pulse of snacking trends are reflecting the lasting interest in pulse-based formulations with the continued launch of snacks using pulse flour in place of grains.
Pulse flours are known for their added value, which includes protein and fibre, as well as their ability to reduce the fat content of formulations. As an ingredient, pulse flours can also improve the texture and shelf life of food. Despite their growing presence in the market, pulse flours represented only 0.9% of the global flours market in 2021, according to a report by Future Market Insights.
Pulse snacks have a long runway for growth
However, the market research firm forecasts that by 2032, the global pulse ingredients market will reach $3.06 billion (€2.83 billion), growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.2%. Peas are predicted to be the dominant pulse option for manufacturers.
Pulse-based snacks fit squarely into the better-for-you snacking category, which is a ballooning segment whose growth was accelerated by the pandemic. In a report from Packaged Facts, 31% of consumers reported increasing their snacking activity because of the coronavirus, and better-for-you options comprised a significant proportion of shoppers' snack purchases. Better-for-you snacking is a wide umbrella term that encompasses claims such as clean label, no sugar added, lower sugar, lower fat, low carb, high protein, plant-based, whole grain, natural and heart-healthy.
Pulse-based snacks align particularly well with consumers looking for higher protein, plant-based options. AirSnax offers 14.6 g of protein for every 100 g of its puffed chips. The original hummus from Tarwi Foods has 7 g of protein and fibre for every 100 g; lupin beans have up to 44% protein content.
Better for the environment is important too
Snacks with pulses are also aligned with those that look for options that are better for the environment.
While it is nothing new that shoppers look for options with a lighter environmental footprint, their interest in this attribute is far from waning. In fact, in this year’s State of Snacking report from Mondelez, 85% of people said they would like to buy snacks from companies that are working to offset their environmental impact.
“Many demographics want to eat more healthily, consume products without the use of animal products, cut back on gluten consumption, and generally eat better-for-you snacks. These were important factors for me and I know they are critical in many people’s purchasing decisions,” founder of AirSnax Nati Azar said in a statement.
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