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Maximising Faba Bean Value with Less Processing


February 2

Over the past 3.5 years, Foodvalley, in collaboration with 10 TPC-partners, has been involved in examining the faba bean value chain. On 31 January, the results of this European project, CO-FRESH, were presented.

Faba Bean Value Chain

Faba beans stand out as a great source of plant-based protein. Not only do they enrich soil fertility by fixing nitrogen, but also cultivating them locally in the Netherlands contributes to protein self-sufficiency. This project has led to the development of innovative plant-based protein products that bring added value to farmers, the soil, and the wider community.

The innovative products resulting from this initiative further diversify the landscape of plant-based products. The project team is proud that the goal of developing both healthy and tasty products, while only using local and minimally processed ingredients (lower waste in chain, lower emissions), has been met. This resulted in commercial availability of one of the products.

It is important to acknowledge that challenges during the project were encountered accurately and pragmatic by the project team, that existed of various actors in the value chain. Having encountered these situations, CO-FRESH has created five FABAbulous learnings that can help to overcome those.

P.A.S.T.E. the findings of Co-Fresh

  • Personal (passion and perseverance): Make it personal. Connect to your customer, define your target groups and their drivers (and topics that keep them awake at night), and make explicit in your communication. Selecting partners with the right mindset is crucial. 
  • Anticipate: Stay ahead by understanding consumer trends, raw material supplies, legislation, and policies (e.g. CSRD). Products developed with minimally processed ingredients show to have a significantly lower food print than highly processed comparison products, which are still five times lower than the meat variant. Dive into consumer preferences regarding product attributes (in this case: pulses), emphasising taste, health, and price as the important factors, whilst considering convenience and conscience aspects.
  • Social: Create connections and a team across the entire supply chain, bridging communication gaps by learning to speak each others ‘language’ and work towards one goal, whilst understanding each others challenges and requirements. To drive a significant protein shift, gaining retail support is crucial. Their involvement hinges on achieving substantial and (unrealistic) continuous supply and turnover levels. 
  • Technology: Don’t concentrate on the (protein) concentrate. Go as low as you can go and avoid unnecessary waste and residual flows, for example by choosing long shelf-life product formats. Challenge the conventional emphasis on protein levels; a lower protein content is not necessarily a drawback, considering the current trend of protein overconsumption. 
  • Economical: Shift the perspective from yield per acre to value per acre for farmers. Stimulate the farmer to ‘move up’ a place in the chain, leading to shorter value chains, and explore collaborations. Also, create insight into the value chain. Currently, only 2% of the consumer price reaches the farmer, while 50% is allotted to retailers. This breakdown lacks transparency and puts all risk at the farmers plate. The implementation of CSDR could unveil this information, encouraging closed-book actors to open up and to move towards a more sustainable and local offer. In the end; if the price of beans is twice as high for local (in this case Dutch) compared to imported beans, whilst the bean price is only responsible for 2% of the final product price, there should be possibilities to better represent the value of local leguminious protein crop production.

DIY falafel mix and a frozen burger

The FABAbulous Five were presented during the meeting, creating discussions among the participants. The day concluded with a tasting session featuring products developed in the project: a DIY falafel mix and a frozen burger, both crafted using minimally processed, locally grown faba beans.

Do you want to know more about CO-FRESH? Read more or get in touch with Minke Burgers,