Half-Cup Habit

Campaign encourages Americans and Canadians to eat a half-cup serving of pulses three times a week

by Pulse Canada Staff

Canadian pulses are exported to many international markets where pulse consumption is a regular part of consumers’ daily diets. That is not the case for the vast majority of North American consumers. Although North American pulses are exported to more than 130 countries, domestic awareness and
consumption of pulses in the United States (U.S.) and Canada is relatively low.

In 2017, Pulse Canada has again joined forces with the American pulse industry to help increase pulse consumption and utilization by consumers and the food industry in North America. On June 21, Pulse Canada, the American Pulse Association (APA), and the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council (USDPLC) jointly launched the Half-Cup Habit, a year-long campaign encouraging American and Canadian consumers to eat a half-cup serving of pulses three times a week.

The Half-Cup Habit is the second phase of a multi-year strategy to increase domestic consumption of pulses in the U.S. and Canada. The first phase of the strategy was launched in January 2016 with the start of the International Year of Pulses (IYP). It lasted until June 2017 and focused on generating widespread awareness of pulses through earned media, social media, online advertising, and partnerships with over 300 consumer influencers. These marketing efforts achieved a combined total reach of over four billion.

During the first phase of the promotion strategy, consumers were encouraged to take the Pulse Pledge, a 10-week commitment to eating pulses once per week. Over a million consumers visited the Pulse Pledge website, pulsepledge.com, and 59,000 consumers took the Pulse Pledge.

The second phase of pulse promotion in North America is focused on deepening consumers’ commitment to eating pulses. The Half-Cup Habit provides consumers with realistic targets for both quantity and frequency of pulse consumption. The halfcup serving size is recommended based on scientific evidence that half a cup of cooked pulses provides high amounts of key nutrients including fibre, protein, folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc.

“The results of IYP and the North American consumer campaign were unprecedented — domestic sales in the U.S. are up dramatically and consumption rates are also rising,” says Tim McGreevy, President of the APA and the USADPLC. “Twenty sixteen was the Year of Pulses. I see 2017 as the beginning of the ‘Decade of Pulses’, where we will continue to work together with our industry partners to transform the way consumers think about the food they eat.”

North American consumers can sign up for the Half-Cup Habit by visiting pulses.org. They will receive weekly resources including simple recipes and cooking tips. The North American pulse industry aims to have 50,000 consumers sign up for the Half-Cup Habit and generate two billion impressions 
through online and earned media promotion. Early signs suggest these goals are achievable — by the end of August there were over 20,800 people signed up for the Half-Cup Habit.

All Half-Cup Habit marketing materials feature the Pulse Brand, a logo developed by the global pulse industry to build consumer recognition of pulses and help consumers identify products containing pulse ingredients. The Pulse Brand was first unveiled to pulse industry members at the 2015 Global Pulse Convention. It was used widely during 2016 to promote the International Year of Pulses, and was used on all marketing materials in the first phase of the North American consumer promotion strategy.

In addition to promoting the Pulse Brand through marketing materials, Pulse Canada is also working with the American pulse industry to encourage its widespread adoption by ingredient suppliers, food manufacturers, and retailers. Over 20 companies and organizations are currently members of the Pulse Brand, and the logo is being used on food products by AGT Foods, Princes Food and Drink, Weston Bakeries, Overwaitea, and Hershey Co.

“There has been tremendous value in taking a collaborative approach. By working together, the Canadian and U.S. pulse industries saw value both in the scale of our work and in the efficient use of our resources. Our focus during IYP was to target consumers, food manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice, and importantly, to provide our governments with ideas about how they can be cost effectively addressing both human and environmental health issues,” says Gordon Bacon, Chief Executive Officer of Pulse Canada.