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The World Embraces Pulses

Uzwil (Switzerland), March 3, 2016 – Pulses are gaining ground: in Europe alone, more than 3500 pulse-based products have been launched since 2010 – and this continues to grow. This is good news for the environment as these dry edible seeds of legume crops are an extremely sustainable source of protein. To further raise awareness of pulses, which are both climate-friendly and healthy, the UN has proclaimed 2016 the “International Year of Pulses” (IYOP). Béatrice Conde-Petit, food scientist and technologist for Bühler adds: “The growing interest from the food industry in including pulses in new food formulations is opening up a vast range of processing opportunities for this valuable crop. As consumer awareness of this food group increases, the up-take of pulses within food products will grow rapidly, supported by pioneering processing technology.” For Bühler, solutions for the cleaning, sorting, and processing of pulses, are an important market with high growth opportunities.

On a worldwide scale, some 72 million tonnes of different pulse varieties, which include peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas, are produced. Pulses are a staple food in some regions of the world and many people in developing countries owe at least 10 percent of their daily energy intake to pulses. On the Indian subcontinent pulses have always been a cornerstone ingredient of food culture, with India sitting high on the league table – growing and processing more than 17million tonnes a year, nearly a quarter of the global harvest. The Indian government actually recommends a daily consumption of 40 grams of pulses. Yet in western societies pulses are just being rediscovered – on the dinner table as well as in the fields.

Equally in the West pulses are having a huge resurgence due to their health properties. Not only do they rank highly on the satiety index, satisfying hunger for a longer period of time but nutritionally they are rich in fibre and protein, low in fat and contain high levels of minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorous as well as folate and other B-vitamins.

Pulses also contribute to sustainable agro-food value chains: just 50 litres of water are needed to grow 1kg of pulses, whereas almost 13000 litres are needed to rear 1kg of beef. When it comes to providing a growing world population with plant protein, pulses come top of the list. Moreover, pulse cultivation preserves soil fertility, thanks to its ability to biologically fix nitrogen in the soil. Pulse crops enter into a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria binding the nitrogen within their root systems. This reduces the requirement for hydrocarbon-based nitrogen fertilizers.

This protein-rich ingredient is also highly valued in gluten-free and vegan foods. Flour, made from ground pulses, is increasingly finding its way into a variety of foods such as pasta, bread, and tortillas, as well as in Textured Vegetable Proteins (TVP) for example. Snacks, both sweet and savory, are also benefiting from novel pulse applications, which boost their health appeal to consumers.

Requests for such applications had an initial spike at the beginning of the Millennium, but in the past few years they have become more frequent. In North America, more than 2000 pulse-based products were launched between 2003 and 2013 and more than 3500 in the EU alone since 2010. These food trends are set to expand further in 2016, particularly driven by greater pressure on pulse processors to provide added-value products to meet demand, created by the increasing attractiveness of pulses as healthy foods.

Bühler bridges the gap

For Bühler, the cleaning, sorting, and processing of pulses is an important growth market. Pulse processing within Bühler’s Pulses, Spices & Sesame division has generated a business volume in excess of CHF 200 million – the Indian market has been especially vibrant. “In the past, pulse processing, particularly in North America, was often restricted to cleaning and then exporting”, explains Surojit Basu, Global Product Manager at Bühler. Also, the rice and grain technologies that have been commonly employed for pulse hulling have not met the quality and quantity requirements of modern, large scale EU and US pulse processors. The processing requirements for all the different pulse varieties are very diverse and complex but Bühler is bridging these gaps in the value chain – helping processors around the globe to adopt complete post-harvest stabilization, cleaning, dehulling, sorting, grinding, and further processing to generate greater value from pulses.

To do this, Bühler’s global pulse experts are designing technology to suit different regional processing needs, including customized processes, plant capacities and equipment compliant with global operational safety standards. One such example is Bühler’s dedicated pulse hulling solution PULSROLL™, which removes the hull from pulses efficiently, hygienically, and cost effectively. The industry’s only certified pulse huller now enables processors in the EU and US to operate in today’s increasingly regulated and highly automated industry. Since its launch in October last year, Bühler has already had multiple orders, highlighting how it has created the next level of quality benchmark for pulses through process excellence and cutting-edge technology across the value chain.

Bühler will continue to develop new pulse processing technologies to meet the growing demand from processors and consumers alike. Innovation focuses on delivering increased efficiency, productivity, and yields, as well as hygienic processing for maximum food safety. By being at the forefront of the pulses industry, Bühler is doing its bit to support consumer health, food security, and the environment. “From a global perspective, pulses are still under-exploited and the industry involved in the agro-food conversion of pulses plays a decisive role in increasing consumption, as part of a healthy diet worldwide,” says Prasad Jaripatke, Head of Pulses, Spices, and Sesame Seeds.

International Year of Pulses – Pulses as an environmentally sustainable source of protein
The aim of the “International Year of Pulses” is to raise awareness of the benefits pulses provide for health, food security, and the world climate. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is collaborating with governments and relevant organizations to underline that pulses can form the backbone of sustainable food production. The year also creates a unique opportunity to encourage collaboration throughout the food chain to better utilize pulse-based proteins, encourage further global production of pulses, better utilize crop rotations, and address the challenges in the trade of pulses.

Bühler Networking Days 2016
From August 22nd to August 24th, 2016 the Bühler Networking Days will take place in Uzwil, Switzerland. This event brings together CEOs and opinion makers from the grain processing industry, with Bühler presenting its latest innovative solutions. This press release covers one of the topics that will be discussed at the event.

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