Lupini Bean May Knock Off Soy as Leading Plant-based Protein Source

The Mediterranean bean contains more protein and fiber than its leading plant-based counterparts, soy and chickpeas, yet shares only a tiny portion of the carbohydrate count.
Feb. 6, 2020 11:20 UTC
Alexandr Mikoulianitch

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The plant-based pro­tein mar­ket is begin­ning to see a big shift in its top source for pro­tein.

The lupini bean, a legume grown mainly in the Mediterranean basin, is surg­ing in the mar­ket as a new and more effec­tive source of pro­tein and nutri­ents essen­tial in any plant-based diet.

The bean con­tains a higher con­tent of pro­tein than soy, the cur­rent go-to for many vegan prod­ucts found on the mar­ket today.

It’s only a mat­ter of time until lupini beans go main­stream. Lupini is already pretty com­mon in Europe and because it checks off so many things con­sumers are look­ing for, it’s bound to go viral.- Isabelle Steichen, Lupii

Yet still, the yel­low bean has not been com­monly accepted in North American mar­kets, mainly due to its cul­ti­va­tion occur­ring pri­mar­ily out­side of the United States. This is all begin­ning to change, how­ever.

Before we started, nobody out­side the Italian-American com­mu­nity really knew what lupini beans were,” said Aaron Gatti, founder and CEO of Brami, the first brand in the U.S. to begin mar­ket­ing lupini beans and releas­ing their own line of dry snacks made with the beans.

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Gatti said he got the idea for a lupini bean-based snack on a trip to Italy with his wife, an idea that is begin­ning to fill the shelves of many stores. The Mediterranean bean con­tains much more pro­tein and fiber than its lead­ing coun­ter­parts, soy and chick­peas, yet shares only a tiny por­tion of the car­bo­hy­drate count.

Being the first always has its chal­lenges around edu­cat­ing con­sumers and buy­ers, but we were helped by the incred­i­bly unique nutri­tional pro­file of the prod­uct,” Gatti said. They have 50 per­cent more pro­tein and 60 per­cent fewer carbs [and] it checks so many con­sumer boxes: vegan, plant pro­tein, keto, paleo, gluten-free, soy-free, you name it.”

Consumption of the lupini bean dates to Roman times, when the bean was eaten as an energy booster. Its leg­endary sta­tus as a portable pro­tein for Roman sol­diers trailed off as time went by and in Italy, it is mainly seen as a pick­led food or as a cold appe­tizer, not too dif­fer­ent from the edamame bean eaten in Japan, Gatti said.

Brami is not the only brand that took notice of the poten­tial suc­cess of an ingre­di­ent such as the lupini bean in today’s nutri­tion-con­scious cul­ture.

Lupii, another new­comer brand ded­i­cated to mak­ing lupini-based snacks which launched this month, has carved itself out a piece of the vegan pro­tein-bar mar­ket.

Isabelle Steichen, co-founder and CEO of Lupii also places a lot of her faith in the bean’s suc­cess with con­sumers due to its high nutri­tional con­tent.

Consumers today are look­ing for more plant-based options that are less processed and deli­cious, while still deliv­er­ing on nutri­tion,” said Steichen.

Both brands are in con­sen­sus that the shift­ing mar­ket will find itself more full of the lupini bean, even though it is a rel­a­tive new­comer and not yet close to becom­ing a sta­ple ingre­di­ent in many diets.

It’s only a mat­ter of time until lupini beans go main­stream,” Steichen said. Lupini is already pretty com­mon in Europe and because it checks off so many things con­sumers are look­ing for, it’s bound to go viral.”

Gatti said he is also see­ing inter­est from peo­ple out­side the strictly vegan lifestyle, peo­ple who are sim­ply look­ing for another option that quickly deliv­ers the nutri­ents and pro­tein in a healthy and easy way. This, cou­pled with their steady momen­tum as a grow­ing brand, gives Gatti con­fi­dence that this is the for­ward trend in the mar­ket.

I think we are cross­ing from the early adopter phase of the prod­uct life-cycle to the early major­ity phase,” Gatti said. That nutri­tional real­ity has cre­ated momen­tum that will only accel­er­ate.”


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