Australia prepares for 2016 as year of legumes (or Year of Pulses)
Australia is amongst 40 countries participating in the initiative which will launch globally on 6 January 2016.
Australia’s legume industry currently contributes AUD$1.6 billion per year to the Australian economy, making the country one of the world’s largest exporters of legumes. These include soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, lupins and many varieties of beans and peas.
Australia’s legume industry
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) September Quarter 2015 agricultural commodities report, gross production of chickpeas in Australia will be AUD$582 million for the financial year ending on the 30 June 2016. Field peas production in Australia for the same period is expected to be worth AUD$121 million and lupins AUD$219 million.
ABARE also reported that Australia’s total grains, oilseeds and pulses exports to China for the financial year ending on the 30 June 2015 amounted to AUD$2, 291 million.
Although traditionally in Australia, legume were grown for animal feed and agricultural soil enrichment, world demand for legumes as human food has outpaced growth in animal-based protein foods. Legume foods provide a good source of protein and fibre and essential vitamins and minerals.
Since the 2013 update of Australia’s dietary guidelines, legumes have been given greater prominence. Australia’s “Healthy Eating Pyramid” published by the Australian Nutrition Foundation Inc. (3rd Ed. 2015) now reflects this addition of legumes as an alternative for some vegetables, grains and proteins. Legumes are also favoured because they are dirt cheap for consumers to buy.
Some extra intestinal gas that comes with consuming legumes is the only downside, but the answer is to stand downwind!
McKenzie’s on Year of the Pulses committee
One of Australia’s largest legume retail product producers, McKenzie’s Foods, will serve on the 2016 International Year of the Pulses committee. It is the only food manufacturer elected to this international committee.
McKenzie’s manufactures a wide variety of legumes for Australian supermarkets including beans, peas and lentils.
The UN says it will be using the year to help reach its goal of increasing legume production by 20 per cent, by 2020. It also aims to increase consumption by 10 per cent and to help improve market access to facilitate local, national and international trade.
The year will also be an opportunity to increase general awareness of legumes and to showcase the opportunities the food source provides as a sustainable product.