Seeking to draw in consumers interested in eating more heart-healthy foods like beans and lentils, the pulse industry launched a new “Made with Pulses” seal at the Institute of Food Technologists' annual meeting this summer. It adds to the proliferation of claims that companies can incorporate on their labels, but the industry is hoping it will entice consumers who’ve heard about the benefits of a diet filled with pulses.
“More than ever, consumers today are looking for affordable, nutritious and environmentally sustainable food options," said Daria Lukie, Pulse Brand manager. "The Pulse Brand and seal act as a unifying symbol to help consumers easily spot products that contain pulse ingredients (like dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas) which are known to carry these benefits."
The seal requires products use eligible pulses in the top five ingredients by weight, and that pulses make up at least 5 percent of the formulation by weight. Lukie said it has attracted a handful of companies in its first weeks of existence, and dozens of companies have signed on to use the Pulse Brand for promotional activities. She added, “We’ve also had a large influx of inquiries from companies interested in the program since it was announced more broadly last month, and expect to have many more brands using the seal by the end of the year.”
Companies interested in using the seal must first become a Pulse Brand member in one of two categories. Promotional Users—any organization that uses pulses in its products or are somehow involved in the pulse industry—can apply to use the Pulse Brand in their marketing materials “for a small fee to cover administrative costs.” Brands that want to use the Made with Pulses seal are called Pulse Product Users and will pay an annual fee of $1,500 to use the seal. Products that display the Pulse Brand will also be promoted on www.pulses.org/pulse-brand, a consumer-facing educational website about pulses and their benefits, as well as recipes and tips for use. There’s also a North America campaign underway in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Year of Pulses.
Asked if the seal is meant to target a particular channel or consumer sector, Lukie said she sees the Made with Pulses seal “resonating most with health-conscious consumers who are seeking out and demanding more from their products.” Pulses are attractive for their protein and fiber content, and have environmental benefits such as being water-efficient and requiring less nitrogen fertilizer than other crops—which, Lukie added, “this consumer base sees as an added bonus. Basically, pulses are good for consumers, as well as the environment, making them an attractive ingredient to the health-minded shopper.”