Australian Mungbean Association
Australian-grown mungbeans have quality written all over them!
New ways with mungbean in the International Year of Pulses
Blue Ribbon Group managing director, Stephen Donnelly (left) and Pulse Australia national manager, Gordon Cumming want 2016 International Year of Pulses to raise awareness amongst Australian consumers of the functional food value of pulses like mungbean. (Photo: Cindy Benjamin)
14 February, 2016
by Cindy Benjamin
Pulses, like mungbeans, chickpeas and lentils, are amongst the oldest domesticated crops in the world, grown on all continents and featuring in every traditional cuisine.
They are a staple food that has sustained human life through history and yet are sadly lacking in the diet of many in the Western World. The time seems right for the world to be reminded of the importance of pulses for human health, soil vitality and sustainable production—and so with some glamour and glitz we celebrate 2016 as the United Nations International Year of Pulses.
Pulse Australia national manager, Gordon Cumming says that industry support for the promotional campaign in Australia relies on the financial backing of businesses to spread the message that pulses have much to offer to the Australian economy, environment and the good health of Australians of all ages.
“One of Australia’s major mungbean exporters, Blue Ribbon Group, and their functional foods manufacturing company, Foods from the Earth, are the official Principal Industry Partner supporting events and activities to promote pulses in Australia throughout 2016,” says Mr Cumming. “Their generous support will ensure that pulses are better known and understood in Australia where for many they are still an unknown ingredient.”
Managing Director Stephen Donnelly is an enthusiastic supporter of the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity that the industry has to put pulses front and centre for Australian growers, consumers, food manufacturers and researchers.
“The mungbean industry in Australia is experiencing exceptional growth with strong demand for the new varieties grown here that meet the exacting requirements of buyers in India, South-East Asia and China,” he says. “There is plenty of room for expansion for most pulses and in Queensland mungbeans are an important part of that expansion as a summer crop to add to the choices growers have for a diverse and profitable rotation.”
Over 90 per cent of the mungbean grain produced in Australia is exported to markets in South-East Asia, India, North America and Europe and is appreciated for its premium quality. The industry is worth over $65 million to the Australian, and primarily Queensland, economy.
On the home front though, mungbean is relatively unknown to many Australians unless they have a strong connection with Indian and Asian traditional cuisine. This is something that Mr Donnelly would like to see change as a result of the heightened awareness of pulses in 2016.
“When it comes to good health pulses tick so many boxes,” he says. “Australian consumers need to have access to convenient, tasty pulse products and be shown how to use these ingredients to enhance meals and overall well-being.”
Blue Ribbon has invested heavily in food manufacturing technology that can revolutionise how pulses can be used to improve the nutritional value of many everyday foods.
“Up until now the distinctive ‘pea flavour’ of pulses has limited their ability to be directly substituted for other, less nutritious grain kibble or flour,” says Mr Donnelly. “This new technology enables us to remove this unwanted taste while maintaining other desirable flavours and all the nutritional value of the pulse grain.”
For chickpea this means removing the pea taste while maintaining the savoury flavours and for mungbean a nutty flavour is brought to the front of the senses. For the humble mungbean this opens up a new world of flavours for people living with a variety of food allergies as world-wide there are no reported cases of allergic reactions to mungbean.
“Consumers are increasingly aware of the need to read product labels and we have found a way to produce nut-flavoured spreads, sauces, high protein flour and protein powder that are ‘free from’ all known allergens,” he says.
It is industry-driven innovations like this that Pulse Australia and the Australian Mungbean Association (AMA) are keen to promote and support through the International Year of Pulses. AMA president Robert Anderson says the opportunities are practically endless when it comes to improving the nutritional quality of foods available in Australia.
“In countries where mungbean is central to everyday meals, buyers and consumers are seeking out and paying a premium for the high quality, clean and safe to eat grain that Australian farmers are growing,” he says. “We hope this is the year that Australian consumers begin asking Australian food manufacturers to look for ways to add more protein and goodness to the foods we eat every day through the increased use of pulse ingredients.”
The AMA applauds the efforts of Blue Ribbon Group to lead the way in functional food manufacturing and developing the technology to enhance the quality of food available to Australian consumers.
If this has whet your appetite to know more, why not get along to the Australian Summer Grains Conference in March to hear from mungbean industry experts, including Stephen Donnelly, speaking about the latest developments in food technology, mungbean agronomy, markets and international trade. The AMA is also sponsoring the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award to an experienced agronomist who has made outstanding contributions to the summer grains industry and the rural community.
More information: www.mungbean.org.au