Lentil snacks survey receives a healthy response

Nutritious snacks developed at WSU were a hit with most of the 400 people who sampled the food at Pullman’s Lentil Festival in mid-August.

“We have tremendous positive feedback from both adults and children based on taste,” said Juming Tang, project leader and fellow in food technology at WSU’s International Marketing for Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) Center. According to festival survey results, more than 80 percent of tasters would buy the lentil snacks and about 72 percent would buy the pea-based products.

Snack food is a $17 billion per year industry with an annual growth rate of 3.5 percent. The share of value-added snacks is $9.46 billion, accounting for 4.8 percent of U.S. food manufacturing.

The high-fiber snacks may help prevent colon cancer, fight obesity and provide appropriate nutrition for diabetics, said Ramabhau Patil, post-doctoral researcher in biological systems engineering.

“Consumers have become increasingly conscious of the health consequences of their food choices,” said Jill McCluskey, IMPACT fellow in food policy and associate professor in the School of Economic Sciences.

“The added health benefits definitely will help promote the products in both domestic and international markets,” Tang said. “That will bring economic returns to the growers in the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest.”

The snacks are made from dry peas and lentils, potato starch and apple fiber — all ingredients grown in Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

“Producing this product will give us the international marketing edge because we have everything we need in Washington to make it,” Patil said.

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