Traces of pulses have been found by archaeologists in settlements dating back several thousand years BC. Today, legumes are grown all over the world. Data on pea cultivation alone indicates the scale of cultivation - the top producer of green peas - by far - is China with 12.2 million tons, followed by India (4.8 million tons). In 2020, approximately 89.8 million metric tons of pulses were produced worldwide.
Pulses are an excellent alternative to meat. Not only because of the nutrients, but above all as a sustainable food. It takes about 50 litres of water to produce 1 kg of pulses, whereas for meat production we use between 1,200 and 5,000 litres per kg of meat. The carbon footprint of pulses is only about 0.9t of CO2-equivalent per 1 kg of product. Their ease and longevity of storage and widespread availability make them the food of the future. A food that can ensure sustainability for future generations. According to a study of the University of Bonn, in order to feed future populations in a climate-friendly and sustainable way, meat consumption needs to fall significantly. Only by drastically changing the type of proteins consumed by people and by creating new or remodelling old food systems we can achieve this goal.
Pea protein production involves separating the protein from the starch and seed husks. Physical processes such as soaking, milling, separation, filtration are used. At the final stage, the obtained protein is spray-dried. The resulting product is a complete plant protein with a plant-specific amino acid profile. Depending on the plant used, the proteins have specific properties such as colour, taste or smell.
Powders, textured protein, crisps, flakes, chunks, granules – there is a broad range of different forms which can be used in food production. A wide variety of plants can be source for proteins – pea, chickpea, rice, sunflower, pumpkin, mung bean, fava bean, etc. They differ not only in their protein content, but also in their physical properties. And, most importantly, they allow to create hundreds of different food products.
There is almost no limit to what ca be produced from plants. Today's advanced technology makes it possible to use plant proteins in a very wide range of products and use their properties as texturiser, emulsifier, water binder, protein source - not only in the best-known meat analogues, but also in ice cream, desserts, bakery products, beverages, snacks. It is only up to the open-mindedness of consumers and the ingenuity of technologists to determine how often products based on sustainable plant-based foods will find their way onto our tables.