MOSCOW, Idaho--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The 2016 International Year of Pulses – a recognition of the superfood category that includes dry peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils – kicks off Jan. 1, 2016. Set for year-long observance by the United Nations, the global designation is intended to increase awareness of the benefits of pulses around the world.
The U.S. is a world leader in pulse production, growing more than 3.4 million acres of pulse crops annually, which yield more than 2.4 million metric tons of dry peas, lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and bean varieties (e.g., black, kidney, pinto). Currently 65 percent of U.S. pulse crops are exported. Despite their prominent role in domestic agriculture and the fact that 68 percent of Americans eat them on a regular basis, only six percent of respondents to a recent survey* knew what the term pulse meant.
To educate consumers about pulses during the IYP, American pulse growers and industry members, in partnership with Pulse Canada, are pooling resources in a joint, multi-channel marketing effort. One goal of the campaign is to increase North American consumption of these healthy and sustainable foods.
“Many cultures around the world are familiar with the term ‘pulse’ and embrace these superfoods as a staple in their diets,” said Tim McGreevy, CEO of the American Pulse Association and USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. “In 2016, we aim to increase domestic demand for these crops by educating Americans that pulses are healthy and accessible sources of lean, plant-based protein. Increasing consumption will help provide solutions to many of our most common health problems – including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – while also contributing to the long-term sustainability of our food system.”
As part of the campaign, which also includes content marketing, social media and digital advertising, consumers are invited to take the Pulse Pledge, a commitment to eating pulses at least once per week for ten weeks in 2016. Launching in time for resolution-minded consumers looking to improve their health or environmental impact in the New Year, the pledge is designed to highlight the many benefits of pulses, including:
- Nutrition & health: Pulses are high in fiber and protein, vitamin and antioxidant-packed, low fat, and have been proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases**.
- Affordability: Pulses are a fraction of the cost of other proteins (the cost per serving for lentils is just $0.10 to quinoa’s $0.59 or beef’s $1.49)***.
- Versatility: Pulses are likely best known as core ingredients in hummus, soups and burritos, but they offer so much more. They can be enjoyed in their whole form, pureed for use in everything from dips to desserts, and can be broken down into nutrient-dense gluten-free flours or plant-based protein powders.
- Sustainability: Pulses have a low carbon footprint, are water efficient (using just one-tenth of the water of other proteins), and enrich the soil where they grow, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers often use pulses in rotation with other crops to increase bio-diversity, improve soil health, and increase productivity of farms.
- Food Security: Easy to grow domestically and internationally, pulses will play a major role in meeting future food needs, with our growing population expected to require a 70% increase in agricultural production by 2050.
Beginning Jan. 1, consumers can visit www.pulsepledge.com to take the pledge and get more information about how to incorporate pulses into their diets, including recipes, preparation tips, shopping lists and more.
About the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
The USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council (USADPLC) is based in Moscow, Idaho, and was established by farmers and trade members in 1965 as a non-profit organization charged with researching and promoting dry peas, lentils and chickpeas in the United States. The USADPLC provides programming in four areas: International Market Development, Domestic Market Development, Health, Nutrition and Sustainability Research and Policy Development. The USADPLC receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state government entities to achieve the goals of the organization. The 5,000 growers, processors and food manufacturers represented by the USADPLC take pride in producing the highest-quality dry peas, lentils and chickpeas for national and international markets. www.cookingwithpulses.com
About the American Pulse Association
The American Pulse Association (APA) was established in 2010 as a non-profit organization devoted to bringing the entire pulse crop (dry peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans) industry together – including growers, trade members and food manufacturers of pulse crops. APA’s goals include increasing the consumption of pulse crops, increasing health, nutrition, functionality and sustainability research on pulses, and engaging in policy development to promote the benefits of consuming pulses for individual health and for the health of the planet. www.americanpulsecrops.org
*According to a survey conducted between Dec. 3 – 6, 2015, by Kelton Global on behalf of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council among 1,011 nationally representative Americans ages 18+
**Nutritional information sourced from the USDA Nutrient Database, antioxidant data as published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 9, 2004; All nutritional figures based on ½ cup serving of cooked pulses
***Cost per serving data sourced from ERS calculations, based on average prices from The Bureau of Labor Statistics and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Data, as reported by the USDA, July 2015