Industry prepares for year of pulses

CALGARY — The pulse industry is gearing up for a year of partying.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, but the festivities will begin long before that.

“We’re going to kick off first with a major event in New York,” said Robynne Anderson, president of Emerging Agriculture.

Hundreds of nutritionists from around the world will attend a symposium on the health and nutrition benefits of pulses at The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science Nov. 19.

That will be followed by events in 32 countries.

“Things are going to happen fast and furious,” Anderson told delegates attending the Pulse & Special Crops Convention 2015.

“Every continent in the world is going to be having a major event.”

The big rollout will be Pulse Feast Jan. 6, a live-streamed celebration that will start in Australia and continue across all the time zones, just like New Year’s Eve parties.

Canada’s Pulse Feast celebration will be centred in Toronto where food media, bloggers and influencers will gather to kick off the year-long celebration.

Later in the year, Canada will host two pulse ingredient workshops where food manufacturers will learn how to incorporate pulse flours and fractions into their products.

The Canadian International Grains Institute in Winnipeg will host the first workshop in April, and POS-Biosciences and the Saskatchewan Food Centre in Saskatoon will organize the second workshop in September.

Other activities will include a pulse exhibit with interactive displays that will stop at malls, airports and other venues.

Huseyin Arslan, chair of the International Year of Pulses 2016 committee, said more than 100 events have been planned around the world.

A consumer website will be launched in November, which Arslan hoped will reach 20 to 40 million people in 2016. It will include recipes from each national committee as well as every Indian state.

Pulse farmers around the world will be encouraged to contribute videos showing consumers how peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas and other pulses are grown.

Arslan’s company, AGT Food and Ingredients, is contributing $500,000 for promotional activities around the world emphasizing the taste, nutrition and environmental sustainability aspects of pulses.

As well, the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund announced an $875,000 contribution to the event at the convention.

Funding is also coming from other companies, governments and agencies such as the FAO.

Arslan said his goal is to build awareness of pulses among the English speaking community so that he no longer greeted by a puzzled stare when he tells border agents that he is a pulse trader.

sean.pratt@producer.com

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