Trends in Plant-Based: Beans as a Food of the Future
In examining one key emerging segment of potential ingredients fueling trends in plant-based consumption, an article in Civil Eats describes how beans (and legumes in general) are a nutritious, long-lasting, and shelf-stable food, with agricultural properties that reduce the need for fertilizer and emit significantly less greenhouse gases when compared to beef.
These properties make beans particularly well suited for the climate crisis as well as public health crises—unsurprisingly, beans have seen an uptick in demand since the onset of the pandemic. However, specialty crop beans are in competition with commodity crops like corn that can yield higher prices overall and tend to be less impacted by increasingly severe and unpredictable weather events.
Specialty bean companies like Rancho Gordo are working on convincing more farmers to plant beans by highlighting their agricultural benefits as well as the fact that specialty crops yield a higher price tag.
Hartman Group Insights:
Legumes like beans are compelling crops poised to gain increasing relevance in consumer pantries, thanks to their agricultural characteristics that align with mindsets around climate change, long shelf life, and—importantly—deliciousness, nutrition, and versatility. With regard to dietary habits, our Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements report found that when asked what type of benefits or fortifications they’re looking for in the functional foods they consume, 28% of consumers of functional foods said they seek out beans, legumes, and pulses. The report also found that Boomers are especially likely to look for inherently functional foods, such as dark green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and pulses.
The reasons behind the increasing resonance of beans underscore growing consumer calls for a shift in our agricultural system away from commodity crops that many are coming to perceive as less supportive of personal nutritional and taste preferences and potential aggravators of the climate crisis. As consumer knowledge and concern around climate change continue to mount, consumers will look to companies and producers to implement practices and grow crops that align with their values. Underscoring these ideas, our Sustainability 2021: Environment and Society in Focus report finds that the linked issues of pollution, climate change, and resource use are the top three environmental challenges that consumers across the World of Sustainability are asking companies to address.
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