UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — The Bühler Group hosted a reception on May 20 at the 2016 Global Pulse Convention for delegates and the media. Leading industry experts outlined how advanced technologies are enabling pulses to be processed sustainably and profitably to maximize value from the crop and create new ways for them to be consumed. They discussed how the industry could work together to bring a greater variety of pulse products to market, to suit different taste preferences in the growing global population. 
Speaking at the Bühler reception, Hüseyin Arslan, president of the Global Pulse Confederation, gave his thoughts about the continued rapid growth of the pulses industry, and insight into how he believes it can continue to expand. 

“As the global population grows, the demand for protein will increase and there may be a shortage, so we are constantly searching for new sources – and thankfully pulses provide a very credible option,” he said. “Although consumption has been largely dominated by the Asian population to-date, interest in pulses has grown in the western world in recent years. As a result of the demand for a long-term, sustainable protein source and the rising global popularity of pulse-based products, we are likely to see the incorporation of pulses into conventional food products like bread, soups, meats and snacks. To do this, however, the industry will need to pursue more advanced, hygienic processing technologies to meet consumer expectations on the taste, texture and appearance of products, without sacrificing the nutritional value.”
Arslan also touched on how advances in processing technology – such as the ones developed by Bühler – have helped to drive the market in partnership with processors, improving efficiency, productivity and hygiene throughout the value chain.
“The past 15 to 20 years have seen great advances in pulse processing technology and solutions, with Bühler, of course, leading the way,” Arslan said “As with so many areas of industry, process automatization and computerization can yield efficiency in operations, reduce costs and provide overall assistance for producing a better quality product. Where we were up to 30 years ago, to where we are now in the industry, is just incredible and this is reflected in the volumes of pulses being produced, processed and shipped globally. However, there are real issues surrounding our ability to efficiently produce enough food for our growing populations, as well as reducing waste. Research into new varieties with higher yields and those that have other characteristics, such as higher protein levels or resistance to certain adverse growing conditions will be key. Universities, governments, national organizations and private companies are funding research and development into pulse varieties, growing practices and ways to boost production that may clear the way for the global pulses trade to move forward and reduce restrictions and regulations.”
Joining Arslan, Beatrice Conde-Petit, food scientist and technologist for Bühler, offered an expert overview on the role pulses can play in global nutrition, the challenges faced by the industry and how Bühler is helping processors to overcome those challenges.
She told visitors that pulses were the key to meeting the global population’s need for an alternative, sustainable protein to meat. 

“Between now and 2050, we need 50% more proteins and far more sustainable value chains than today. Pulses are a huge opportunity and are available now,” she said, outlining the challenges in developing food products that are convenient, tasty, nutritious, and cost-effective, while meeting modern lifestyle requirements and the growing importance of collaboration along the value chain. 

“Processors involved in the primary processing of pulses (the stage involving grits, pulse flours and protein-enriched ingredients) need to work together with those applying pulses in baked products, snacks and pasta, for example, to meet the taste, texture and nutritional requirements of modern consumers,” Conde-Petit said. “Research is needed to understand the role of pulse processing and product structure on the nutritional side, such as digestibility, satiety and blood glucose modulation among other areas. The growing interest from the food industry in including pulses in new food formulations is opening up a vast range of processing opportunities for this valuable crop. As consumer awareness of this food group increases, the up-take of pulses within food products will grow rapidly, supported by pioneering processing technology.” 

She added that Bühler’s experts can work in partnership with processors to offer support alongside providing cutting-edge technology, including processing know-how, insight into food safety, nutrition and the utilization of by-products.
Also speaking at the reception, Surojit Basu, global product manager at Bühler, explained how the processing requirements for all the different pulse varieties were diverse and complex, but Bühler was able to bridge these gaps in the value chain – helping processors around the globe to adopt more hygienic, sustainable and profitable methods of processing – from efficient cleaning, de-hulling, splitting and sorting, to further value added processes such as germination, in order to improve nutritional value,  yield, aesthetic appeal and functional properties of pulses and their derived products.
Highlighting modern practices in industrial pulse processing, Aidin Milani, business development for the Bühler Group, talked about the natural next step in the value chain, for the North American Pulse market. He spoke on the growing trend for milling the crop into an edible form and touched on other value added processes for utilizing pulses as food ingredients, such as grinding, dry fractionation and thermal processes. Commenting on the final product, he cited processing solutions that are gaining popularity such as roasting pulses, extrusion for pasta, noodles and snacks, as well as the texturing of protein-rich pulse flours into textured vegetable protein (TVP) products.
“I believe we will see the pulse sector continue to grow and be a big part of the solution to societal problems surrounding the world’s ability to feed it’s growing global population,” said Arslan. “Higher production levels and more efficient processing technologies, with continued strong demand, are expected to be positives for our industry.”