The largest baker in the United Kingdom is interested in incorporating Canadian pulses into its bread.
Warburtons is working with the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) on a three-year research project to create healthier baked goods by using flours made out of peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas.
The British company contributed $680,000 to the $2.9 million project. The bulk of the funding came from the $1.8 million provided by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.
JoAnne Buth, chief executive officer of CIGI, said the organization was approached by Warburtons 18 months ago.
The company was searching for ways to increase the protein and fibre content of its bread while getting rid of preservatives and additives.
CIGI has a long history of working with the British company. It conducts variety testing and field plot analysis for Warburtons on a fee-for-service basis.
“Our baking team is trained in using Warburtons’ methods,” said Buth.
One of the goals of the project is to develop a database summarizing the compositional, functional and flavour properties of various pulses and to explore the effects of pre- and post-milling treatments, particle size and storage on those pulses.
Researchers will also experiment with fermentation processes as a way to decrease additives and eliminate some of the undesired flavours associated with pulse crops.
Doughs from the pre-ferment trials will be used to develop pulse-based bakery products that meet specific nutrition targets.
Researchers will be working with yellow peas, red and green lentils, chickpeas and navy beans.
“Warburtons has made the commitment that the pulse flours they will use will be coming from Canada,” she said.
Researchers will be creating bread, rolls, sandwich thins, tortillas and crumpets from the pulse flours.
“It’s about taking Canadian pulses and then adding the value here,” said Buth.
A unique aspect of the project is that all of the research will be shared with breeders, seed companies, growers, processors and other food industry companies.
“All of that information will be public,” she said.
Adam Dyck, Canadian program manager for Warburtons, said the company is proud to be partnering with CIGI on the project.
“This new research underlines the increasing popularity of new and innovative bakery products amongst consumers and is testament to Warburtons’ commitment to future growth through diversification and innovation,” he said in a press release.
Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said the project will increase the demand for pulse flours and generate better economic returns for growers.
“Inclusion of pulse ingredients into baked foods helps address consumer interest in choosing nutritional ingredients in the foods they eat,” he said in the press release.
“This project also addresses market diversification, which is an important focus for SPG, and Saskatchewan pulse growers are well suited to meet the demand for improved nutrition in the food industry.”