The United Nations has designated 2016 as the “Year of the Pulses.”

Such multinational companies as Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge Ltd. and Tate & Lyle, P.L.C. are investing in many emerging ingredients. Studies are revealing potential health and food safety benefits in some, and, in 2016, what additional revelations may come for pea protein, algae oil, spelt, turmeric, mushrooms and allulose?

The United Nations has designated 2016 as the “Year of the Pulses.”

“Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer,” the General Assembly of the United Nations said.

American pulse growers and industry members, in partnership with Pulse Canada, are pooling resources in a joint, multi-channel marketing effort to educate consumers about pulses, which include dry peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. The effort, scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, will focus on the benefits of pulses, including nutrition and health, affordability, versatility, sustainability and food security.

The pea protein market is projected to reach $34.8 million globally by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% from 2015 to 2020, according to a report issued in November by MarketsandMarkets, Pune, India. Pea protein may replace a percentage of other proteins in some food products without affecting the color, taste or texture of the products, according to the report.

Archer Daniels Midland, Chicago, in October said it intends to offer pea protein isolates and concentrates in the future in response to a growing demand for functional proteins that may be incorporated into a range of products. ADM already has experience in plant proteins, offering soy protein and bean ingredients.

Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., in 2014 entered into an agreement with Alliance Grain Traders Inc., now AGT Food and Ingredients, to be AGT’s distributor of that company’s pulse flours, protein and bran ingredients.

Algae oil may become a more viable option to replace phos in 2016.

Algae oil as a pho alternative

The search for alternatives to partially hydrogenated oils (phos) may gain momentum in 2016. The Food and Drug Administration earlier this year ruled phos are no longer Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as food ingredients. Companies have until June 2018 to find alternatives.

Microalgae oil may become a more viable option in 2016 after Bunge, White Plains, N.Y., and Solazyme, South San Francisco, in October of this year announced they had expanded their joint venture in microalgae innovation to include a focus on food. Besides not being a pho, AlgaWise ultra omega-9 fatty acid oil from Solazyme is more than 90% monounsaturated fat and less than 4% saturated fat. The company’s AlgaWise high stability oil, also not a pho, is more than 87% monounsaturated fatty acids and 2% polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The next quinoa?

Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., this year reported 19% of U.S. consumers said they have purchased menu or retail items with ancient grains. While quinoa ranks as possibly the most popular ancient grain, spelt is making gains, too. Time magazine in November ranked spelt as one of the “50 (New) Healthiest Foods of All Time.”

“Spelt includes complex carbohydrates and is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin B2, niacin, manganese, thiamin, copper and magnesium,” the Time article said. “It even has fatty and amino acids, which are important for body function.”

Dave’s Killer Bread offers an organic bread with spelt. Since Flowers Foods, Inc., Thomasville, Ga., has acquired Dave’s Killer Bread, distribution of all the company’s bread items should increase.

Turmeric, often used as a natural source of color to replace Yellow 5 or Yellow 6, is showing health and food safety potential.

More than a color

Turmeric, often used as a natural source of color to replace Yellow 5 or Yellow 6, is showing health and food safety potential as well. Studies continue to focus on curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric.

A recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease indicated a close chemical analog of curcumin has properties that may make it useful as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Curcumin has demonstrated ability to enter the brain, bind and destroy the beta-amyloid plaques present in Alzheimer’s with reduced toxicity,” said Wellington Pham, Ph.D., assistant professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and senior author of the study.

Curcumin encapsulation using a soluble polymer looks to be a promising strategy to widen the use of curcumin as an ingredient in the food industry, according to an article in the May 2015 issue of Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies.

Turmeric also may improve the shelf life of fresh produce and curb E. coli outbreaks, according to a study at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., that appeared recently in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Researchers placed curcumin on surfaces used in food processing to kill microbes and prevent spoilage. Further research may incorporate curcumin into food packages.

Mushrooms aid in sodium reduction.

Mushrooms for sodium reduction

Mushrooms were not kept in the dark at Food Ingredients Europe, held Dec. 1-3 in Paris. The Scelta Taste Accelerator sodium reduction ingredient from Scelta Mushrooms, Venlo, The Netherlands, won the overall title as Most Innovative Ingredient. It also won for Best Functional Innovation. The ingredient features an umami flavor profile and has achieved sodium reduction of up to 50% in applications, according to the company.

Salt of the Earth Ltd., Atlit, Israel, includes Red Sea salt and extracts from shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes and kombu seaweed in its recently launched Umamix ingredient. Lab results have shown Umamix helped decrease sodium by 45% in hamburgers and meatballs and by 33% in frankfurter sausages without affecting the final product’s taste.

A new sweetener

Three companies introduced branded sweeteners based on allulose in 2015. Allulose is a low-calorie sugar that exists in nature and contains 90% fewer calories than traditional sugar, according to London-based Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., which introduced its Dolcia Prima brand of allulose in February. Other allulose introductions followed with the Astraea brand from Matsutani America, Inc. and the AllSweet brand from Anderson Global Group.

The upcoming year might ring in new ways to incorporate allulose into foods and beverages.

“Dolcia Prima is the most significant new product launch from our pipeline recently,” said Javed Ahmed, chief executive of Tate & Lyle, in a Nov. 5 earnings call. “Given the breadth of opportunities for this low-calorie rare sugar, and supported by strong customer interest, this is potentially a very exciting opportunity for the company.”