Pulses: For people and planet
We know that people and families want to enrich their meals so they’re tastier, more nutritious, and culinarily richer. The same holds true for foods that offer a short cut, such as refrigerated spreads and ingredients for the worlds of cooking and baking.
However, we’ve found that there aren’t many plant-based solutions that are tasty, vegan, indulgent, and gastronomic. As a food company, Strauss is constantly on the lookout for these solutions. Food is passion, and this is what always guides us to develop, to innovate, to gain inspiration from a multitude of worlds and stories, and to offer people exciting, delicious food that they’ll want to eat.
On of the most basic and interesting raw ingredients is pulses – lentils, white beans, soya, peas, and of course, the chickpeas that we all love. Staple meals and cuisines from around the world are based on pulses. We see this from the traditional meals in the full English breakfast, Indian dahl, Middle Eastern falafel, and the chili and frijoles refritos around Latin America.
Pulses have nutritional, environmental and even social advantages.
From the environmental perspective, pulses have a lower carbon footprint in compare to many other foods. A significant factor is their low reliance on fertilizers, with produces heavy emissions during production and distribution. pulses also have a comparably small water usage because they have adapted to arid conditions and can some of them even tolerate drought. Varieties of pulses such as fava beans and pigeon peas can grow in extremely arid soil that isn’t fertile enough for other crops. The nitrogen benefits of growing pulses, and improve the fertility of the soil, assisting farmers in improving their crops throughout the year and over time. When comparing the water consumption of other sources of protein, producing one kilogram of lentils requires on 1,250 liters of water, compared to one kilogram of chicken - 4,324 liters -and one kilogram of beef - 13,000 liters.
From the social perspective, pulses have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. Archaeological findings reveal the cultivation of chickpeas, lentils and beans going back to 7,000-8,000 BC. Pulses are cheap, easy to store and nutritious. They are cheaper than meat and are therefore suitable for underprivileged sectors of society, providing nutritionally rich yet cheap and accessible food source. Their ability to improve soil microbes has been key to improving farming techniques in low-income rural areas. They can be stored for long time in basic conditions (without special refrigeration) while maintaining their nutritional value for years, which enables them to be consumed and sold throughout the year regardless of season.
The pulses market has grown significantly as a protein substitute for milk to eggs to meat, as spreads, as raw ingredients for cooking and as a range of delicious foods from around the worlds that have been exposed to new audiences. While in 1990, worldwide exports of pulses were up to $2.5 billion, in 2012, it reached $9.5 billion. Quantitively, during this period, trade doubled to 13 million tons globally.
Last but not least, the nutritional perspective. At Strauss, over time, we have not only seen the many advantages of pulses in social and environmental circles, but also the multitude of nutritional benefits.
Pulses have particularly high nutritional value and play a very important role in our diets. Health organizations around the world recommend incorporating pulses in our daily menus, and they are part of the recommended Mediterranean diet.
Pulses have significant nutritional value: They are a source of protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals (including Group B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium), they’re rich in fiber and are relatively low in fat.
The UN and FAO states that pulses contribute to the wellbeing of humans and of soil, to food security, and to nutritional security, and recommends increasing awareness of their importance and consumption.
In the face of the global food and food security and nutritional security crisis, deepening by the growing world population and climate change among others, pulses-based nutrition has many advantages that are key to addressing these challenges, as highlighted by the UN in its “World Pulses Day” resolution. With pulses, we could feed the world more sustainably.
Our challenge at Strauss is not only to produce tasty foods and products that offer the many advantages of pulses, but also to provide a wide range of options to suit every occasion and need.
In the world of innovation, as part of our The Kitchen FoodTech incubator, we have developed the foods of the future: Zero Egg, an egg substitute that uses soy, pea and chickpea protein, with no cholesterol, no saturated fat, no sugar, has 10 grams of protein per serving, iron, potassium and calcium. RiLBiTE uses soy and lentil protein to produce a meat substitute, using a recipe that guarantees a clean label. The technology generates the sensory experience of meat – the smell, the color and the taste.
At Strauss Dairies, we brought the Alpro brand to Israel in a partnership with Danone. Alpro has a wide range of products, and we have the core are soy-based drinks.
In the other areas of food, in addition to our beloved “Achla” hummus in the Israeli market, we are always researching and looking for interesting, tasty and nutritious options. In 2020 we launched our conserved goods that include pulses such as white beans, chickpeas, peas and red beans.
The conserves contain agricultural produce that was picked in season, cooked up to 24 hours from the moment of harvesting, and are free of preservatives and BPA. From the packaging perspective we worked to provide an appropriate alternative to the metal cans we’re consumers are used to – we use innovative containers that prevent aftertastes, and are safe for children, easy to open and can even be reused. The packaging is lighter, and its rectangular shape is convenient for storage both in the pantry and when transporting. These products offer easier access to ready to eat raw ingredients for cooking and salads.
We have recently expanded our world of spreads, with a black lentil spread and a bean, garlic and dill spread.
In addition, we expanded our hummus-based spreads with beet hummus, and hummus and chili pepper and in Sabra and Obela around the world like Spinach & Artichoke Hummus Greek Inspired Hummus with mix of traditional Greek inspired herbs and spice and even dessert dip- chocolate hummus. Chickpeas are known for being rich in vitamins and minerals, and containing protein and dietary fibers.
This past June, we hosted a seminar in Tel Aviv on the topic of pulses for a professional audience of dieticians from around nation. Dietician Hagar Miller enriched the participants with her deep knowledge of the world of pulses. The event was also aimed at strengthening the ties between the Strauss and the dietician community out of a desire to, on the one hand present the work we’ve been doing and its relevance to the community, and on the other hand, receive feedback. In addition, we created a booklet that provides an in-depth review of the world of pulses, its benefits and nutritional value. The booklet is a work tool for professionals working with patients. The gathering was an opportunity to learn about creative ways to use raw ingredients, including surprising dishes made out of familiar raw ingredients (such as beans based brownies and Arais with green lentils).
For more information about the benefits of pulses, please go to the World Pulses Day page of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website. You don’t have to wait till February 10 to celebrate World Pulses Day, every day can be a celebration of Strauss’ pulses-based products.