Powerful pulses: the rise of the humble chickpea

Powerful pulses: the rise of the humble chickpea

By
Laura Robinson
January 28, 2020

The humble chickpea.

Hippy health food no longer, this pint-sized package of buttery, nutty goodness is finally enjoying its mainstream moment in the sun. And reports by leading research companies suggest that this isn’t just a passing trend. The global market is set to grow by $3.5 billion from 2018 to 2022, with a projected CAGR of 4.8% from 2020 to 2025.

If you were to write a checklist of key consumer trends for 2020, these powerful pulses could certainly tick a few boxes. Not only are they healthy, plant-based protein-powerhouses. They can do creamy convenience. They can offer a salty snack-worthy crunch. And you can mix them with just about any other vegetable, herb or spice and you’ll end up with something tasty. (Believe us, we’ve tried.)

So I guess it’s time to give (chick)peas a chance. Here’s how you can get involved.

Trend drivers: Healthy, plant-based diets and convenience

As millennials’ commitment to healthy, sustainable diets continues to shape the market, two groups in particular are driving the chickpea craze: health food converts and indulgence seekers who also want to feel good about what they eat. As a rich source of folate, zinc and fibre, chickpeas are a clear go-to ingredient for brands seeking to attract these consumers through “better for you” products.

And then there’s our ongoing obsession with protein. Confused by endless debates about the role of carbs and fat, consumers are turning to protein as a key building block of good health. At the same time, experts predict that focus will be on plant-based protein, with the market projected to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to a whopping $85 billion in 2030. So again, our little balls of beige gold fit the bill.

Our busy lifestyles also have us seeking solutions that help us eat in line with our values without spending hours in the kitchen. Pre-cooked chickpeas are an affordable and healthy pantry staple and the growing number of ready-to-eat products make it easy to be pulse-powered on the go.

Riding the trend: Dips, snacks and…dessert hummus

If I said chickpeas, chances are that you’d think hummus. Thanks to its simplicity and versatility, this dip has earned an undeniably central position in the plant-based foods movement. To further maximise margins, leading marketers have been eager to show consumers how they can incorporate hummus into main meals – in wraps or bowls, for example – or how it can be enjoyed at different times of the day. This strategy seems to be paying off, as experts predict that the global hummus market size will reach $877.1 million by 2024.

But it’s the healthier snacks category that apparently offers the greatest growth potential. Chickpea snacks are already well established in a number of international cuisines - from clove-spiced Leblebi in Turkey to chilli and coconut coated Indian Sundal. But now even multinational corporations, like PepsiCo with their “Off the eaten path” range, are jumping on the bandwagon. Chickpea flour is also a boon for the “free-from” market: a healthy, protein-packed alternative for ready-made sweet and savoury baked goods.

As always, there are brands that are taking things a step further. Building on the buzz around dessert hummus – which typically replaces tahini and garlic with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa powder – a number of chickpea-based sweet snacks and desserts have popped up in the US market over the last few months.

Product case studies: Biena and Little Chickpea

When it comes to sweet and salty snacks, Biena has become a pioneer in the plant-based movement. Created before the chickpea craze took hold, founder Poorvi Patodia wanted to develop a healthy snack for busy moms, inspired by the nutritious dishes of her childhood in India. Expanding beyond their core roasted product, Biena’s new chickpea puffs are already outperforming growth predictions and distribution targets. The brand recently secured an additional $8 million in Series B financing, led by MAW investment, a group created by some of the brightest brains of the snack industry.

Micah Camden, the mastermind behind Blue Star and Boxer Ramen, similarly raised some eyebrows when he announced he was launching Little Chickpea – ice cream made from chickpea milk. After testing some surprising samples – think Szechuan Strawberry – from a stand last summer, his concept has become particularly popular with nut, dairy, gluten and soy intolerant customers. But not content to stop there, Micah found another way to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers: the by-product left after processing the the milk is made into chickpea flour and turned into tasty treats sold on site.

Added value: Communicating your corporate conscience

A growing number of consumers don’t only care about the food that lands on their plate. They also want to know where their food comes from – and how its journey impacts our planet. Chickpeas are a low-impact crop that releases nitrogen back into the soil. New varieties have also led to a dramatic increase in yields in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping families to grow their way out of poverty.

Recognising the strength of this message, many brands like Hippeas, one of Biena’s key competitors, contribute a portion of their profits to charitable organisations that develop sustainable supply chains in these countries. These mission-like commitments, in addition to convenience and a great taste, may just be a secret ingredient that will help new brands stand out in a rapidly developing market.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Think about how you could use chickpeas to add a protein punch to existing products – from pasta and chips to baked goods and desserts.
  • If you’re already processing chickpeas, consider how you could save money and benefit from consumer interest in the circular economy by creating new products – like chips, vegan mayonnaise or chickpea flour - from by-products.  

Food Service

  • Plant-based eaters are looking for lunchtime combinations that are light but filling. Think about how you could incorporate chickpeas in snacks or main meals – from soups to wraps – and mark them as plant-based protein options on the menu.
  • Try adding a trio of hummus flavours to your apéro menu. Plant-based and flexitarian customers will thank you for it!

Retail

  • Add some chickpea or pulse-based products to your existing snack or ready-to-eat offer to provide convenient alternatives for health-driven or plant-loving customers.
  • If your customers are environmentally aware, consider testing their interest in in-store pulse and whole foods dispensers to cut down on plastic and packaging.

Written by
Laura Robinson

From policy geek to digital consultant, Laura has always enjoyed bringing people together through words or tools to drive positive change. She is most proud of finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship by founding Pink Pear Agency - a network of passionate specialists who help food businesses grow innovative projects and share their stories with the world. Laura is currently interested in project development and management, digital tools, content strategy and copywriting.

Become a FoodHack+ member to get unlimited access

  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
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The humble chickpea.

Hippy health food no longer, this pint-sized package of buttery, nutty goodness is finally enjoying its mainstream moment in the sun. And reports by leading research companies suggest that this isn’t just a passing trend. The global market is set to grow by $3.5 billion from 2018 to 2022, with a projected CAGR of 4.8% from 2020 to 2025.

If you were to write a checklist of key consumer trends for 2020, these powerful pulses could certainly tick a few boxes. Not only are they healthy, plant-based protein-powerhouses. They can do creamy convenience. They can offer a salty snack-worthy crunch. And you can mix them with just about any other vegetable, herb or spice and you’ll end up with something tasty. (Believe us, we’ve tried.)

So I guess it’s time to give (chick)peas a chance. Here’s how you can get involved.

Trend drivers: Healthy, plant-based diets and convenience

As millennials’ commitment to healthy, sustainable diets continues to shape the market, two groups in particular are driving the chickpea craze: health food converts and indulgence seekers who also want to feel good about what they eat. As a rich source of folate, zinc and fibre, chickpeas are a clear go-to ingredient for brands seeking to attract these consumers through “better for you” products.

And then there’s our ongoing obsession with protein. Confused by endless debates about the role of carbs and fat, consumers are turning to protein as a key building block of good health. At the same time, experts predict that focus will be on plant-based protein, with the market projected to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to a whopping $85 billion in 2030. So again, our little balls of beige gold fit the bill.

Our busy lifestyles also have us seeking solutions that help us eat in line with our values without spending hours in the kitchen. Pre-cooked chickpeas are an affordable and healthy pantry staple and the growing number of ready-to-eat products make it easy to be pulse-powered on the go.

Riding the trend: Dips, snacks and…dessert hummus

If I said chickpeas, chances are that you’d think hummus. Thanks to its simplicity and versatility, this dip has earned an undeniably central position in the plant-based foods movement. To further maximise margins, leading marketers have been eager to show consumers how they can incorporate hummus into main meals – in wraps or bowls, for example – or how it can be enjoyed at different times of the day. This strategy seems to be paying off, as experts predict that the global hummus market size will reach $877.1 million by 2024.

But it’s the healthier snacks category that apparently offers the greatest growth potential. Chickpea snacks are already well established in a number of international cuisines - from clove-spiced Leblebi in Turkey to chilli and coconut coated Indian Sundal. But now even multinational corporations, like PepsiCo with their “Off the eaten path” range, are jumping on the bandwagon. Chickpea flour is also a boon for the “free-from” market: a healthy, protein-packed alternative for ready-made sweet and savoury baked goods.

As always, there are brands that are taking things a step further. Building on the buzz around dessert hummus – which typically replaces tahini and garlic with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa powder – a number of chickpea-based sweet snacks and desserts have popped up in the US market over the last few months.

Product case studies: Biena and Little Chickpea

When it comes to sweet and salty snacks, Biena has become a pioneer in the plant-based movement. Created before the chickpea craze took hold, founder Poorvi Patodia wanted to develop a healthy snack for busy moms, inspired by the nutritious dishes of her childhood in India. Expanding beyond their core roasted product, Biena’s new chickpea puffs are already outperforming growth predictions and distribution targets. The brand recently secured an additional $8 million in Series B financing, led by MAW investment, a group created by some of the brightest brains of the snack industry.

Micah Camden, the mastermind behind Blue Star and Boxer Ramen, similarly raised some eyebrows when he announced he was launching Little Chickpea – ice cream made from chickpea milk. After testing some surprising samples – think Szechuan Strawberry – from a stand last summer, his concept has become particularly popular with nut, dairy, gluten and soy intolerant customers. But not content to stop there, Micah found another way to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers: the by-product left after processing the the milk is made into chickpea flour and turned into tasty treats sold on site.

Added value: Communicating your corporate conscience

A growing number of consumers don’t only care about the food that lands on their plate. They also want to know where their food comes from – and how its journey impacts our planet. Chickpeas are a low-impact crop that releases nitrogen back into the soil. New varieties have also led to a dramatic increase in yields in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping families to grow their way out of poverty.

Recognising the strength of this message, many brands like Hippeas, one of Biena’s key competitors, contribute a portion of their profits to charitable organisations that develop sustainable supply chains in these countries. These mission-like commitments, in addition to convenience and a great taste, may just be a secret ingredient that will help new brands stand out in a rapidly developing market.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Think about how you could use chickpeas to add a protein punch to existing products – from pasta and chips to baked goods and desserts.
  • If you’re already processing chickpeas, consider how you could save money and benefit from consumer interest in the circular economy by creating new products – like chips, vegan mayonnaise or chickpea flour - from by-products.  

Food Service

  • Plant-based eaters are looking for lunchtime combinations that are light but filling. Think about how you could incorporate chickpeas in snacks or main meals – from soups to wraps – and mark them as plant-based protein options on the menu.
  • Try adding a trio of hummus flavours to your apéro menu. Plant-based and flexitarian customers will thank you for it!

Retail

  • Add some chickpea or pulse-based products to your existing snack or ready-to-eat offer to provide convenient alternatives for health-driven or plant-loving customers.
  • If your customers are environmentally aware, consider testing their interest in in-store pulse and whole foods dispensers to cut down on plastic and packaging.

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  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
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The humble chickpea.

Hippy health food no longer, this pint-sized package of buttery, nutty goodness is finally enjoying its mainstream moment in the sun. And reports by leading research companies suggest that this isn’t just a passing trend. The global market is set to grow by $3.5 billion from 2018 to 2022, with a projected CAGR of 4.8% from 2020 to 2025.

If you were to write a checklist of key consumer trends for 2020, these powerful pulses could certainly tick a few boxes. Not only are they healthy, plant-based protein-powerhouses. They can do creamy convenience. They can offer a salty snack-worthy crunch. And you can mix them with just about any other vegetable, herb or spice and you’ll end up with something tasty. (Believe us, we’ve tried.)

So I guess it’s time to give (chick)peas a chance. Here’s how you can get involved.

Trend drivers: Healthy, plant-based diets and convenience

As millennials’ commitment to healthy, sustainable diets continues to shape the market, two groups in particular are driving the chickpea craze: health food converts and indulgence seekers who also want to feel good about what they eat. As a rich source of folate, zinc and fibre, chickpeas are a clear go-to ingredient for brands seeking to attract these consumers through “better for you” products.

And then there’s our ongoing obsession with protein. Confused by endless debates about the role of carbs and fat, consumers are turning to protein as a key building block of good health. At the same time, experts predict that focus will be on plant-based protein, with the market projected to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to a whopping $85 billion in 2030. So again, our little balls of beige gold fit the bill.

Our busy lifestyles also have us seeking solutions that help us eat in line with our values without spending hours in the kitchen. Pre-cooked chickpeas are an affordable and healthy pantry staple and the growing number of ready-to-eat products make it easy to be pulse-powered on the go.

Riding the trend: Dips, snacks and…dessert hummus

If I said chickpeas, chances are that you’d think hummus. Thanks to its simplicity and versatility, this dip has earned an undeniably central position in the plant-based foods movement. To further maximise margins, leading marketers have been eager to show consumers how they can incorporate hummus into main meals – in wraps or bowls, for example – or how it can be enjoyed at different times of the day. This strategy seems to be paying off, as experts predict that the global hummus market size will reach $877.1 million by 2024.

But it’s the healthier snacks category that apparently offers the greatest growth potential. Chickpea snacks are already well established in a number of international cuisines - from clove-spiced Leblebi in Turkey to chilli and coconut coated Indian Sundal. But now even multinational corporations, like PepsiCo with their “Off the eaten path” range, are jumping on the bandwagon. Chickpea flour is also a boon for the “free-from” market: a healthy, protein-packed alternative for ready-made sweet and savoury baked goods.

As always, there are brands that are taking things a step further. Building on the buzz around dessert hummus – which typically replaces tahini and garlic with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa powder – a number of chickpea-based sweet snacks and desserts have popped up in the US market over the last few months.

Product case studies: Biena and Little Chickpea

When it comes to sweet and salty snacks, Biena has become a pioneer in the plant-based movement. Created before the chickpea craze took hold, founder Poorvi Patodia wanted to develop a healthy snack for busy moms, inspired by the nutritious dishes of her childhood in India. Expanding beyond their core roasted product, Biena’s new chickpea puffs are already outperforming growth predictions and distribution targets. The brand recently secured an additional $8 million in Series B financing, led by MAW investment, a group created by some of the brightest brains of the snack industry.

Micah Camden, the mastermind behind Blue Star and Boxer Ramen, similarly raised some eyebrows when he announced he was launching Little Chickpea – ice cream made from chickpea milk. After testing some surprising samples – think Szechuan Strawberry – from a stand last summer, his concept has become particularly popular with nut, dairy, gluten and soy intolerant customers. But not content to stop there, Micah found another way to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers: the by-product left after processing the the milk is made into chickpea flour and turned into tasty treats sold on site.

Added value: Communicating your corporate conscience

A growing number of consumers don’t only care about the food that lands on their plate. They also want to know where their food comes from – and how its journey impacts our planet. Chickpeas are a low-impact crop that releases nitrogen back into the soil. New varieties have also led to a dramatic increase in yields in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping families to grow their way out of poverty.

Recognising the strength of this message, many brands like Hippeas, one of Biena’s key competitors, contribute a portion of their profits to charitable organisations that develop sustainable supply chains in these countries. These mission-like commitments, in addition to convenience and a great taste, may just be a secret ingredient that will help new brands stand out in a rapidly developing market.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Think about how you could use chickpeas to add a protein punch to existing products – from pasta and chips to baked goods and desserts.
  • If you’re already processing chickpeas, consider how you could save money and benefit from consumer interest in the circular economy by creating new products – like chips, vegan mayonnaise or chickpea flour - from by-products.  

Food Service

  • Plant-based eaters are looking for lunchtime combinations that are light but filling. Think about how you could incorporate chickpeas in snacks or main meals – from soups to wraps – and mark them as plant-based protein options on the menu.
  • Try adding a trio of hummus flavours to your apéro menu. Plant-based and flexitarian customers will thank you for it!

Retail

  • Add some chickpea or pulse-based products to your existing snack or ready-to-eat offer to provide convenient alternatives for health-driven or plant-loving customers.
  • If your customers are environmentally aware, consider testing their interest in in-store pulse and whole foods dispensers to cut down on plastic and packaging.

The humble chickpea.

Hippy health food no longer, this pint-sized package of buttery, nutty goodness is finally enjoying its mainstream moment in the sun. And reports by leading research companies suggest that this isn’t just a passing trend. The global market is set to grow by $3.5 billion from 2018 to 2022, with a projected CAGR of 4.8% from 2020 to 2025.

If you were to write a checklist of key consumer trends for 2020, these powerful pulses could certainly tick a few boxes. Not only are they healthy, plant-based protein-powerhouses. They can do creamy convenience. They can offer a salty snack-worthy crunch. And you can mix them with just about any other vegetable, herb or spice and you’ll end up with something tasty. (Believe us, we’ve tried.)

So I guess it’s time to give (chick)peas a chance. Here’s how you can get involved.

Trend drivers: Healthy, plant-based diets and convenience

As millennials’ commitment to healthy, sustainable diets continues to shape the market, two groups in particular are driving the chickpea craze: health food converts and indulgence seekers who also want to feel good about what they eat. As a rich source of folate, zinc and fibre, chickpeas are a clear go-to ingredient for brands seeking to attract these consumers through “better for you” products.

And then there’s our ongoing obsession with protein. Confused by endless debates about the role of carbs and fat, consumers are turning to protein as a key building block of good health. At the same time, experts predict that focus will be on plant-based protein, with the market projected to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to a whopping $85 billion in 2030. So again, our little balls of beige gold fit the bill.

Our busy lifestyles also have us seeking solutions that help us eat in line with our values without spending hours in the kitchen. Pre-cooked chickpeas are an affordable and healthy pantry staple and the growing number of ready-to-eat products make it easy to be pulse-powered on the go.

Riding the trend: Dips, snacks and…dessert hummus

If I said chickpeas, chances are that you’d think hummus. Thanks to its simplicity and versatility, this dip has earned an undeniably central position in the plant-based foods movement. To further maximise margins, leading marketers have been eager to show consumers how they can incorporate hummus into main meals – in wraps or bowls, for example – or how it can be enjoyed at different times of the day. This strategy seems to be paying off, as experts predict that the global hummus market size will reach $877.1 million by 2024.

But it’s the healthier snacks category that apparently offers the greatest growth potential. Chickpea snacks are already well established in a number of international cuisines - from clove-spiced Leblebi in Turkey to chilli and coconut coated Indian Sundal. But now even multinational corporations, like PepsiCo with their “Off the eaten path” range, are jumping on the bandwagon. Chickpea flour is also a boon for the “free-from” market: a healthy, protein-packed alternative for ready-made sweet and savoury baked goods.

As always, there are brands that are taking things a step further. Building on the buzz around dessert hummus – which typically replaces tahini and garlic with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa powder – a number of chickpea-based sweet snacks and desserts have popped up in the US market over the last few months.

Product case studies: Biena and Little Chickpea

When it comes to sweet and salty snacks, Biena has become a pioneer in the plant-based movement. Created before the chickpea craze took hold, founder Poorvi Patodia wanted to develop a healthy snack for busy moms, inspired by the nutritious dishes of her childhood in India. Expanding beyond their core roasted product, Biena’s new chickpea puffs are already outperforming growth predictions and distribution targets. The brand recently secured an additional $8 million in Series B financing, led by MAW investment, a group created by some of the brightest brains of the snack industry.

Micah Camden, the mastermind behind Blue Star and Boxer Ramen, similarly raised some eyebrows when he announced he was launching Little Chickpea – ice cream made from chickpea milk. After testing some surprising samples – think Szechuan Strawberry – from a stand last summer, his concept has become particularly popular with nut, dairy, gluten and soy intolerant customers. But not content to stop there, Micah found another way to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers: the by-product left after processing the the milk is made into chickpea flour and turned into tasty treats sold on site.

Added value: Communicating your corporate conscience

A growing number of consumers don’t only care about the food that lands on their plate. They also want to know where their food comes from – and how its journey impacts our planet. Chickpeas are a low-impact crop that releases nitrogen back into the soil. New varieties have also led to a dramatic increase in yields in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping families to grow their way out of poverty.

Recognising the strength of this message, many brands like Hippeas, one of Biena’s key competitors, contribute a portion of their profits to charitable organisations that develop sustainable supply chains in these countries. These mission-like commitments, in addition to convenience and a great taste, may just be a secret ingredient that will help new brands stand out in a rapidly developing market.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Think about how you could use chickpeas to add a protein punch to existing products – from pasta and chips to baked goods and desserts.
  • If you’re already processing chickpeas, consider how you could save money and benefit from consumer interest in the circular economy by creating new products – like chips, vegan mayonnaise or chickpea flour - from by-products.  

Food Service

  • Plant-based eaters are looking for lunchtime combinations that are light but filling. Think about how you could incorporate chickpeas in snacks or main meals – from soups to wraps – and mark them as plant-based protein options on the menu.
  • Try adding a trio of hummus flavours to your apéro menu. Plant-based and flexitarian customers will thank you for it!

Retail

  • Add some chickpea or pulse-based products to your existing snack or ready-to-eat offer to provide convenient alternatives for health-driven or plant-loving customers.
  • If your customers are environmentally aware, consider testing their interest in in-store pulse and whole foods dispensers to cut down on plastic and packaging.