Lentil Protein for the Health-Centric Consumers

Lentil protein market size was valued at US$15.801 million in 2020. 

A healthy diet is essentially a good practice that supports the nutritious growth of the human body. In recent times, when the number of chronic noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer is increasing, the importance of healthy food habits is also surging simultaneously. Consumers globally are searching for healthy alternatives which are free from additives, fats, calories, and similar ingredients. Following the change in consumer preferences, the health-conscious behavior of consumers is rising. Furthermore, the rising awareness of the environmental impact owing to livestock farming is driving the demand for plant-based protein markets around the world. Lentil is an affordable and healthy plant-based protein, with the advantage of high fiber and low-fat content. Additionally, the increasing investments by the food processing organizations to bring innovation in their plant-based protein product portfolio, including lentil protein is aiding the growth of the lentil protein market.

The health benefits of lentil-based protein are a primary factor driving the lentil protein market demand

Lentil proteins are good for heart health as they are rich in lysine, fiber, folic acid, and potassium. According to the American Heart Association, legumes are high in minerals and fiber, which gives the consumer the advantages of animal protein without saturated fats. Eating lentils can also improve blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, the presence of essential amino acids in the lentils helps to improve the functionality of immune systems. With several health benefits lentils serves as a better alternative plant-based protein source. Furthermore, lentils are considered smart proteins. As per the Smart Protein project by the EU, lentils comprise an average of 26% high-quality protein. Also, lentil protein helps to increase the nutritional value of the food. Some of the predominant proteins in lentils are globulin, which plays an important role in the healthy functioning of the liver. Additionally, among the six common legumes, lentils have the highest total phenolic content. The phenolic contents are important plant constituents that are responsible for facilitating antioxidant activity in the human body. Hence, the numerous health benefits of lentil proteins are propelling the growth of the lentil protein market. 

During the forecast period, the increasing number of strategic initiatives by the competitive market players is expected to facilitate the growth of the lentil protein market

The lentil protein market has witnessed a significant development owing to the rising demand for healthy food options and growing concerns regarding animal cruelty. The use of lentils as an alternative to meat and fish is growing simultaneously with the rising awareness about the food system impact. For instance, in August 2019, Parabel USA Inc, a producer of protein ingredients from water lentils launched neutral-colored protein ingredients. Water lentils are sustainable alternatives for manufacturers searching for plant-based options to address the concerns about food system impact. The new ingredient contains 65-70% hydrolyzed protein and a complete amino acid profile. The CEO of Parabel USA states that water lentils hydrolysate has good functionality as compared to other minimally processed ingredients.

Furthermore, in March 2022, Global food and Ingredients Inc. acquired Bentilia, a lentil-based pasta brand in the plant-based pasta market segment. Bentilia lentil-based pasta is made of lentil flour giving the products a chunk of lentil protein benefits. The GFI believes that through this acquisition the company can position itself well in the US and Canadian markets. Through this acquisition, the GFI has acquired dual benefits of Bentilia’s product portfolio which are its health and wellness credentials and elevated taste expectations. Through such strategic initiatives, the lentil protein market players are intending to expand their operations. Due to the rising demand, these market players are benefitting through deliberately planned acquisitions. Therefore, the overall prospects of the lentil protein market are indicating growth during the forecast period,

The analyst anticipated that during the forecast period the European region is expected to hold a significant market share

The lentil protein market has been divided into five regions: North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific. During the forecasted period, the European lentil protein market is expected to hold a large proportion owing to the EU’s ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2050. Furthermore, the EU has taken several initiatives for the development the plant proteins. For instance, the Farm to Fork Strategy aims for a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system.  Through this initiative, the EU aims to push sustainable food production, sustainable food processing and distribution, sustainable food consumption, and food loss and waste prevention. As per the Legume Innovation network, increased awareness regarding sustainable food systems has revitalized legume consumption in Europe, which has resulted in significant growth in the lentil protein market in the European region.

COVID-19 Insights

The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on the lentil protein market, due to the major shutdowns in most of the major sectors including the food and beverage sector. As a result of temporary halts in business operations, along with the disruptions in the supply and production lines, the food industry faced heavy shortages. Furthermore, agricultural activities were also affected due to the social distancing measures imposed across the world, which ultimately affected the production of lentils. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, lentil production was 6,570,688 tons in 2018 which was reduced to 5,783,772 tons and 6,537,581 tons in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Although the numbers are indicating a gradual recovery after the pandemic, the overall production tons in 2020 were lower as compared to 2018. Furthermore, to match the growing food demand, the market rebounded quickly, as governments across the globe started working on meeting the food demand during the pandemic.