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Pulse Canada and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) continue to implement a crop-specific market development strategy for Canadian pulses.  

Canada’s national market development strategy for pulses focuses on 

Julianne Curran, Vice President of Market Innovation at Pulse Canada, says, “Our strategies take into consideration each pulse type we grow in Canada. We look at current production volumes, current markets, who we are competing with in those markets, the volume potential for each of the pulse crops in different processing streams, as well as the potential for growth in different geographic regions and end-use applications in those regions.” 

“We have modelled scenarios for potential growth for each pulse crop, and these scenarios guide our recommendations for diversification in terms of our audiences and the regions where we are building demand. We’re aiming for growth in markets that emphasize quality, consistency, low carbon footprint and sustainable production practices.” 

Pulse Canada’s 2030 Strategic Goals 

Lentils 

There have been promising discussions with suppliers to the foodservice segment around different value-add products using lentil flour, including a gluten-free pizza crust.

The lentil market development goal is to diversify 25% of Canada’s lentil crop, growing markets in the United States (U.S.) and Europe. Curran says, “To develop a meaningful volume of demand in non-traditional geographic markets requires us to focus across many different end-use categories and processing streams. As part of this strategy, we are actively working on outreach in retail food, pet food, and foodservice industries.”  

In the U.S., the market development team has made progress with non-commercial and commercial foodservice operators and manufacturers of value-added foodservice products. SPG Director of Marketing and Communications Amber Johnson says, “One of our successes this past year was launching a new menu offering at Pret A Manger, a restaurant chain with ambitious growth plans. The Spiced Lentil & Chickpea Hot Wrap launched in September 2023 and exceeded sales forecasts in its first month on the menu.” 

Non-commercial foodservice outreach has exceeded goals in the number of training programs completed, online courses taken, and confirmed menu use at post-secondary institutions and foodservice suppliers. FoodWorks, a subsidiary of Compass Group, is also launching a recipe contest to support increased lentil use during the summer of 2024. 

Johnson says, “We have had a lot of uptake and development in the non-commercial foodservice sectors now that we have emerged fully out of COVID-19 and resumed regular operations again.” The lentil marketing team welcomed 20 foodservice operators to Saskatchewan for a farm tour in 2023/24. The Lentils.org Learning Hub, a free self-paced online course developed by and for foodservice chefs to learn about lentils and how to use them in their menus, has increased course sign-ups by one-third in the last year and doubled course completions. 

Johnson is also excited about the potential in the pizza segment: “We have had some promising discussions with suppliers to the foodservice segment around different value-add products using lentil flour, including a gluten-free pizza crust that has perked the interest of many commercial foodservice operators, expanding our outreach into a new segment.” 

With exports to the U.S. slowly growing, marketing efforts have expanded foodservice outreach into Europe, including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (U.K.), and Germany, to replicate earlier successes in the U.S. 

Pulse Canada is also working with a U.K.-based consultant to directly introduce lentil ingredients to European food companies, focusing on higher volume applications such as snacks, pasta, ready-to-eat foods, and processed meats.  

Dr. Curran mentions two communications pieces that offer essential information to these markets:  

She says, “By building the demand and interest from food manufacturers in lentil ingredients, we can support growth in value-added processing.” 

Peas 

Pulse Canada researched using pea ingredients as a replacement for eggs in cakes, cookies, danishes, and waffles.

The market development goals for peas are to diversify half of Canada’s pea crop, targeting key regions such as the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia and tripling domestic use for ingredient processing and feed by 2030.  

Dr. Curran says, “Peas have a lot of broad use potential, and while we have seen growth in value-added processing, they are still relatively new to the market compared to more established crops like soy, wheat, and corn. Pulse Canada has been building awareness of the potential for pea ingredients in various applications and sharing information about nutrition and sustainability benefits.” 

Pulse Canada researched using pea ingredients as a replacement for eggs in cakes, cookies, danishes, and waffles. The results will be shared in a marketing campaign to promote pea ingredients in the next year. 

China has had success using pea ingredients in swine feed. Marketing efforts are now expanding to aquaculture and poultry and broadening regions of use to include more countries in Southeast Asia. Dr. Curran says, “Direct outreach to feed manufacturers in Southeast Asia and North America has translated into real interest, and we are now developing relationships with these feed buyers.” 

Domestic pea use and exports to the U.S. are both on the rise. “In future years, we also expect Indo-Pacific regions to take advantage of the benefits of peas in sustainable feed. These large volume markets will round out our portfolio.” 

Faba Bean 

Faba beans are a promising complement to peas in protein and flour ingredients in the food industry.

The market development goal for faba beans is to diversify 75% of Canada’s faba bean crop. Dr. Curran says, “Faba beans are a promising complement to peas in protein and flour ingredients in the food industry. Pulse Canada continues to build and share information on faba beans and their benefits to address technical challenges and questions from the food industry in North America. The inability to get regulatory approvals for faba bean ingredients to be used in the U.S. pet food market is one issue currently facing the industry. We are working with Protein Industries Canada on a project to demonstrate the safety of long-term consumption of dog food formulations with faba bean ingredients, as this is a data gap preventing regulatory approvals for faba bean ingredients in the U.S. pet food market. Addressing this will help faba bean ingredient processors gain access to this market.”  

Sharing Sustainability Advantages 

Over the last few years, Pulse Canada has done significant work to build comprehensive and specific sustainability data for all the pulses we grow in Canada. Dr. Curran says, “Canadian growers and their products are well positioned for recognition of the sustainability benefits of their production practices. Modelling has been done to quantify how reformulating food products with low-impact ingredients like pulses can help meet the sustainability and net zero goals many companies have set.” 

As Pulse Canada and SPG continue their coordinated efforts to expand market opportunities for Canadian Pulses, our global reputation – for nutritional and sustainable food and food ingredients – will also grow. These efforts align with two of the focus areas in our strategic plan: Market Growth and Diversification and Market Access and Advocacy.