Biena Foods targets legume sweet spot with chocolate-covered chickpeas
The new line, which includes dark chocolate, milk chocolate and salted caramel varieties, targets consumers’ desire for indulgent yet nutritious snacks. A serving contains about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 4-5 grams of fiber and 4-5 grams of sugar.
- Founded in 2012, Biena Foods’ dry-roasted chickpeas are already available in Sea Salt, Rockin’ Ranch, Habanero, Honey Roasted, Barbeque and Cinnamon Crunch flavors.
Legumes such as beans, dried peas, lentils and chickpeas have enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years as more Americans seek healthy alternatives to potato snacks, according to a report from Packaged Facts. Many companies are investing in better-for-you snacks and, according to Research and Markets, the global chickpeas market reached a volume of 15.4 million tons in 2016, with a CAGR of 6% between 2009 and last year.
While chickpeas and other pulses have exploded in the savory snacks segment, they have been slower to forge a path into the sweet snack category. However, the latest Biena Foods line is less risky than it may appear, joining a plethora of other chocolate-covered foods like almonds, raisins and coffee beans in the snack aisle.
Chickpeas’ popularity is unlikely to be a fad. Their flour has been used for centuries as a wheat alternative in Asia and the Middle East. The legumes are turning up in a range of manufactured foods, from cookies and bread to chips and snacks. Sweet legume-based snacks is an area to keep an eye on over the coming years, as the alternative ingredient snack market is expected to remain strong through 2019, with a CAGR of 6.2% to reach sales of $1.7 million.
What’s more, in an effort to boost domestic sales, the USDA has urged food manufacturers to use chickpeas and other pulses in value-added foods, citing biscuits, cookies, beverages, tortillas, nutrition bars, dry starch mixes, flatbreads, pizza crusts, vegetarian spreads, and sauces. Consumers have been quick to snap up such products, with chickpea-containing products leading market growth.
The fast-growing gluten-free market has also been a driver for legumes, and food manufacturers are taking note of chickpea flour as a favorable, nutritious substitute for wheat flour. This may have paved the way for a wider range of chickpea-containing products, as the pulse has shown its appeal beyond gluten-free applications, particularly for its impressive nutritional profile. Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, as well as micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium and iron.
Apart from their relatively recent appearance in sweet snacks, chickpeas’ cooking water – known as aquafaba – is currently making waves among vegans as an alternative to egg whites. It even has an official website, which praises aquafaba’s emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing and thickening properties, making it a promising vegan ingredient for products like meringues, mayo and baked goods.
- Food Business News Biena Foods adds chocolate to chickpeas