Clean label lentil flour improves bakery and snack portfolios  

Feb 19, 2019

US-based Bunge Limited has added lentil flour to its product portfolio, which bakery and snack producers can apply to substitute modified starches, while still offering a clean label.

Lentil flour – just like its equivalent in the legume kind – ticks all the right slots for today’s demand regarding added protein and fiber in baked goods and snacks.

Lentils are the world’s first crops grown in the history of mankind along with rice and wheat. Lentils were initially introduced more than 8,500 years ago. Lentils can be grown in much favoured temperature of cool-weather in areas receiving scanty rainfall. They are high in fiber, potassium and iron, but low in calories and saturated fat thus is a very good source of antioxidants.

These beneficial qualities have made lentils an essential ingredient in Asian and Middle East culinary. It is recently gaining popularity in West due to its properties like gluten-free and nutrient-rich with excellent source of protein

Mark Stavro, Senior Director of Marketing at Bunge, expressed that lentils have a propensity to provide higher protein, fiber and iron content than other alternative flours, such as chickpea in daily diet.

“Our lentil functional flour offers the ability to make stronger protein and fiber claims than traditional flours,” he said, adding it is suitable for gluten-free formulations.

“Additionally, it can provide  many  of the same  key features offered  by modified starches, including adding crispness and  crunch,  thickening and  gelling.”

He added that the flour is available in every grades of grinds (from fine powder to coarse)  to meet customer demand across a wide range of applications whether bakery, snacks or other cuisine.

Winning over consumers

Consumer awareness and demand for clean label ingredients in food has incentivized manufacturers of bakery items and snacks to take up natural emulsifiers, stabilizers and thickeners.

World-wide consumers are demanding more and more natural and organic foods, which have brought about stricter rules and regulations of preservatives and label claims.

Though vegetable snacks are leading in the pack of crackers and chips, pulse-based variants follow closely to second position as per a 2017 report from Packaged Facts.

Pulses can include lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas.

Taking into consideration with lentils, US plant-based snack company Harvest Snaps and global MNC- Mars Incorporated has recently partnered with an Indian nonprofit company to produce a lentil-based snack planned to increase protein consumption amongst the people.

Less than 1% of U.S consumers are the target of autoimmune deficiency known as celiac disease. Celiac disease attacks the small intestine after gluten ingestion. Many consumers have embraced gluten- free products. Losing gluten from diet, however, reduces fiber substance.

Euromonitor named whole grains as one of its eight trends for 2018, noting the wide-open opportunities to innovate in baked goods and snacks.

The report highlights consumer interest in healthy living, culled from raw foods, clean label, ancient grains and plant proteins.

Not gluten-free, but still value-added

On the other hand, lentil flour – along with chickpea, pea and bean flours – increased batter’s thickness of gluten-free layered cakes.

 ‘The legumes significantly increased the hardness and chewiness in the cakes, except with addition of lentil. Enriched cakes had  higher total protein, available proteins, minerals [and] fat, as well as fiber content… overall, considering physicochemical properties and  nutritional quality, lentil our incorporation resulting  in the best gluten-free cakes,’ wrote the study’s authors.

Beyond the Year of the Pulse

Adding  lentils or other high-nutrient flours can give a much-needed boost of dietary fiber  (31g per  100g, plus  25g of protein), recommended by the European Food  Standard Agency to reach or exceed 25 grams per day for adults. About 60% of U.S. adults consume the indicated amount of protein level.

Today’s consumers still want to eat bread but  nearly a third look for  high-fiber content, and more than 20% try to avoid  enriched grains entirely. The whole grain industry will exceed US$45 billion by 2020s, according to the Whole Grains Council.

Whole grain breads made with 10% or 20% lentil flour can replicate dough thickness and crumb texture, with slightly nuttier flavor profile.

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