The recently concluded THAIFEX-Anuga Asia 2023 trade show in Bangkok, Thailand proved to be a remarkable platform for the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council (USADPLC) and the U.S. Dry Beans Council (USDBC) to showcase U.S. pulses and pulse ingredients with the presence of key importers and industry professionals.
THAIFEX-Anuga Asia has emerged as one of Southeast Asia’s largest F&B trade shows, attracting exhibitors, visitors, and buyers from around the world. This year, the event boasted an impressive turnout of 3,034 exhibitors and 78,764 visitors from 133 countries across its 12 exhibition halls. This event has gained significant recognition, strengthened by its association with Anuga, the prestigious trade show held biennially in Cologne, Germany.
Several notable trends observed at THAIFEX-Anuga Asia 2023 align closely with the U.S. pulses and pulse ingredients market. Topics such as alternative meat proteins, clean labeling, functional and free-form products, halal food, organic products, plant-based proteins or foods, ready-to-eat products, sustainably packaged goods, and superfoods took center stage. These trends highlight the growing demand for nutritious and sustainable food options, which U.S. pulses can readily cater to.
The USADPLC and USDBC collaborated to host a U.S. Pulses booth within the USA Pavilion. Bert Brocke (George F. Brocke & Sons) and Guillermo Mancebo (Puris Foods) represented the USADPLC, engaging with existing and potential customers, and addressing inquiries related to U.S. pulses and pulse ingredients. Wang Chemicals, a prominent Thai importer of U.S. pulses and pulse ingredients, also joined at the booth, facilitating productive networking opportunities.
To attract visitors and showcase the versatility of U.S. pulses, the councils worked with Chef Pae and her partners at Kind Café, a participant in the Innovate Your Plate restaurant competition. Together, they curated a delectable menu, featuring dishes like Chickpea Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce, Great Northern Beans and Chickpea Hummus with Chips, and Lentil Sweet Potato Brownie. Chef Pae’s involvement also extended beyond the U.S. Pulses booth. She hosted two cooking demonstrations at the FAS-USDA’s booth, showcasing the versatility of U.S. chickpeas.
The councils also sponsored canned U.S. chickpeas for a cooking demonstration by Chef Ian Kittichai, a renowned figure in Thai cuisine and Iron Chef Thailand. This collaboration further emphasized the culinary possibilities and quality of U.S. pulses.
In addition to the curated menus, visitors at the booth had the opportunity to sample U.S. pea protein soft serve ice cream—a novel product that sparked conversations about the adaptability of pea and other pulse proteins in various applications. The ice cream samples not only delighted attendees but also served as a gateway for discussions on incorporating pea protein into different food and beverage products.
Pea Protein’s Rise:
THAIFEX-Anuga Asia 2023 witnessed the emergence of numerous exhibitors presenting plant-based products featuring pea protein. While soy protein remains the primary ingredient in most plant-based products, pea protein is gaining traction as the second most popular option. Although the origin of pea protein in these products was often undisclosed, exhibitors suggested that China may be the likely source for most of these products in Thailand.
Visitors who engaged with the U.S. Pulses booth expressed interest in protein ingredients suitable for meat-type products, baking, beverages, and snacks. Among the various pulse ingredients displayed, U.S. pea protein egg replacement and protein for ready-to-drink (RTD) products generated significant interest. Attendees were pleasantly surprised by the absence of the typical gritty texture associated with drinks made from pea protein. This positive reception reinforced the suitability of U.S. pea protein in a range of applications, and the choice of U.S. pea protein as a higher quality ingredient.
The U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council (USADPLC) and the U.S. Dry Beans Council (USDBC) participation in THAIFEX-Anuga Asia 2023 allowed them to promote U.S. pulses, forge connections with importers, manufacturers, users, and buyers, and showcase the culinary possibilities of pulses. The event’s success, marked by significant estimated sales and projected future sales, exemplifies the growing demand for high-quality, nutritious, and sustainable food options. With ongoing efforts to highlight the benefits and adaptability of U.S. pulses, this Southeast Asian market holds immense potential for further growth and collaboration.