Trends · 4min read

Food Industry Trend Watch: #6 The Return of Ancient Grains & Legumes

Chickpeas and other highly nutritious ingredients are making a comeback.

In this six-part series, we explore the biggest food industry trends of 2021.

With the health of people and the planet a top priority, it’s no surprise that some of the oldest and most nutritious grains and legumes are experiencing sizable spikes in demand.

Looking at wider food categories, food manufacturers are seeking out ancient grains and legumes in increasing numbers. With climate-friendly diets, such as veganism and vegetarianism, on the rise, high protein legume crops, in particular, are utilised as an eco-friendly alternative to meats and other dairy-based protein products. Interestingly, as Food Navigator aptly highlights, it is their nutrient value, such as amino acid content, as well as their ability to improve soil health and fix nitrogen that is positioning them favourably for farmers and food manufacturers.

Chickpeas have been hailed by many, including Food Industry Executive, Food Navigator, and FoodBev Media, as the ingredient to watch out for in 2021. This not only holds true for the chickpeas in their whole cooked form. Their byproducts, such as aquafaba, and processed forms, such as chickpea flour, which is gluten-free, are also on the rise. Even the multinational supermarket chain Whole Foods expects chickpea and foods containing chickpeas to fly off the shelves this year. Beyond breads, pastas and dips, some more creative chickpea formulas are popping up in the dessert section in the form of chocolate-covered chickpeas or chickpea cookie dough. To what extent this trending ingredient will become a shining star on the market, remains yet to be seen.

Note: At foodcircle, we’ve witnessed a steady uptake in demand for organic pea protein powder and organic hemp powder in recent months. Although we tested teff flour last year, the demand was not high enough to warrant an update in our portfolio. If you are interested in sourcing plant-based proteins or legumes, please contact our Sales Team (

Imagery: (1) Everson de Souza and (2) Nicholas Barbaros via


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