The changing landscape of legume products available in australian supermarkets
Evidence supports regular dietary inclusion of legumes due to their positive effects on both human and planetary health. Intake within Australia is suboptimal, with consumer data suggesting that an inability to integrate legumes into usual dietary patterns is a barrier to consumption. This places the food industry in a unique position to offer Australians the ability to incorporate legumes into usual dietary patterns via innovative new products. The aim of this study was to explore the legume category and compare nutrition product data and the use of nutrition and health claims between 2019 and 2021. An audit of legume products from four major metropolitan Sydney supermarkets (Aldi, Coles, IGA, Woolworths) collected ingredient lists, nutrition information and on-pack claims for baked beans, legume dips, legume flours, legume snacks (including subcategories of legume chips and whole legume snacks), canned legumes, dried legumes, frozen legumes, and pulse pasta. The total number of legume products available on the market nearly doubled from 2019 (n = 312) to 2021 (n = 610); this was driven by traditional plain canned and dried legumes and some new and convenient options, particularly snacks (legume chips) where the largest growth occurred. Of all legume products (n = 610), 82% met the Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criteria, 86.8% were at least a source of dietary fibre, and 55.9% were at least a source of protein. Nutrition content claims relating to dietary fibre, gluten free and protein more than doubled since 2019, with each featuring on over one third of the products identified in 2021. Vegan/vegetarian on-pack claims more than doubled since 2019, and claims related to the term plant-based/plant protein and environmental sustainability emerged on packs in 2021. By addressing barriers to consumption, such as lack of time and knowledge on how to prepare legumes, innovative legume products may help influence future consumption patterns.
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