Industry members gathered in celebration of pulses on February 10th, as the legacy of the UN Declared International Year of Pulses continues.

By Nicole Calzacorta

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Two years ago the United Nation’s declared 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP). The marking of that momentous year in the pulse industry laid a solid foundation for growth and continued celebration of pulses. Each year the industry unites in celebration of Global Pulse Day, which recently took place on Saturday, January 10th.

Global Pulse Day is shared on social media with the hashtag #GlobalPulseDay and #LovePulses. The annual gatherings range in size, some are small celebrations at home with family and friends, while others are larger events organized by companies or organizations. Notably this year a few national organizations were able to recognize this special day during their annual industry meetings with 400+ attendees reported.

Many of the events shared show the versatility and innovation of pulses with a variety of dishes commemorating pulses (dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas). The passionate spirit of the pulses industry is evident more than ever, as members took a moment to give thanks while continuing to create awareness on the benefits of pulses.

IFT wishes to spotlight a few of the many 2018 Global Pulse Day celebrations that took place this past Saturday.


Spain’s Traditional Roots

Pulses are one of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet in Spain. Naturopath Nutritional Specialist with the European Medical Institute for Obesity (Instituto Médico Europeo de la Obesidad, IMEO), Dr. Rubén Bravo, educates consumers on how “legumes are a low caloric food, with only 280 calories per hundred grams.”

Bravo also explains how pulses are considered complete proteins when combined with some cereal. He suggests to add “sautéed boletus” and that flavorful dishes can make it a pleasure to consume legumes three to four times per week as recommended by the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (Fundación Española de la Nutrición).

Spain produces and consumes more pulses than any other country in the European Union. However, Spain’s legume production does not come close to covering the domestic demand, nor does the weekly consumption reach the recommended three to four servings a week. Nearly 80% of the pulses consumed in Spain are imported, which the majority come from Canada, Argentina, Mexico or Turkey depending on the crop.

Diego Rubiales, researcher with the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (IAS) of the Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), explains that “85% of alubias are imported (mostly from Argentina), 75% of chickpeas (typically from Turkey and Mexico), and 65% of lentils (predominately from Canada)” which, he believes, the majority of consumers in Spain do not know this statistic.

Years ago Rubiales pointed out that Spain has researchers who could solve the problems of varieties to improve yields and the methodology of cultivating pulses in Spain, yet he believes that a connection between researchers and producers is lacking. He trusts that there will be a change in consumer trend. This is already happening as the interest of consumers is returning to pulses, just as farmers in Spain are now betting on the domestic production of pulses to help reduce external dependence.


Next Generation of Recipes

The Association of Legume Professionals of Spain (Asociación de Legumbristas de España, ALE) joined the 2018 Global Day. Speaking on behalf of the international division of ​​ALE, Albert García, reported that after the success of the international year, the celebration of Global Pulse Day is expected to continue as the industry seeks to carry on the promotion of pulses.

García believes the key “is in education, in children and new generations,” therefore Spain must promote new innovation in pulse recipes that “go far beyond classic stews”, which are less compatible with the cooking habits of families today.

For 2018 Global Pulse Day, Legumbres Agro Caballero enjoyed a variety of dishes with pulses, ranging from a traditional alubia stew (alubias guisadas) to hummus with garbanzos, also delicious chocolate brownies made with garbanzos showing the many possibilities of recipes with legumes.

In a recent news article, the president of the Association of Chefs and Bakers of Madrid (Asociación de Cocineros y Reposteros, Acyra), Bárbara Buenache, agrees that pulses are essential in a good diet and can be cooked in countless recipes. Buenache highlights the potential of plant proteins that pulses provide in a society that increasingly has more people who have chosen to not eat meat. As a result, this shifting consumer trend has inspired restaurants to innovate their menus to include more legumes, since she says today “vegetarians are not satisfied with just grilled vegetables.”

Check out the website for innovative pulse recipes from all over the world.


Bringing Markets Together

For over 20 years the United States Dry Bean Council has hosted trade members at its annual 2018 U.S. Dry Bean Congress that took place last week (February 8th to 11th) in Cancun, Mexico. Participants from the United States, Mexico, Central and South America gathered to discuss business opportunities and to recognize this year’s Global Pulse Day.

Ted McKinney, USDA’s Undersecretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs was the keynote speaker at this year’s meeting. During his trip, Undersecretary McKinney also visited Mexico City to meet with local staff at the USDA Foreign Agricultural (FAS) office to thank them for their work supporting agricultural trade.

It was reported that 400+ attendees gathered together on Saturday for one-to-one business meetings between importers and exporters. The participants discussed harvest results and exciting global trends in the industry. Speakers throughout the 3-day event covered crop production and harvest reports from the United States, Mexico, and Chile with a focus on pulses, popcorn, and sunflower crops.

Dr. Janice MW Rueda, Director Research & Business Development of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM Edible Bean Specialties, Inc.) gave a presentation titled, “Why Just Innovate When You Can ‘BeanOvate’: Exciting Global Trends in Bean Innovation”.


Giving to the Community

Singapore Pulses Federation Limited (SPFL) sponsored a Charity Dinner at Sunlove Home for the resident patients to celebrate Global Pulse Day and to share with the community the nutritional benefits of consuming pulses.


SPFL has been dedicated to charitable acts with their main objective to encourage people around the world to eat pulses and to help raise awareness on the multiple benefits of consuming pulses. Last year, SPFL donated 60 kgs of different varieties of pulses to Singapore’s Food Bank, a place where people can deposit or donate food that is then allocated to the needy through a network of member beneficiaries, soup kitchens and various types of homes, such as Sunlove Home.

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Nicole Calzacorta, CEO & Co-Founder

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