The food business is entering a transition period/ and that impacts agriculture. During the virtual BeanCon 21 meeting, Brad Barnes, consulting and industry programs director for the Culinary Institute of America, says there is a space that’s gaining value around plant-forward and plant-based eating.
“I’m not here to tell you anything is wrong with meat, but I see this evolving to a place of self-consideration,” he said. “People are going to say, ‘I want to know what I’m putting in my body and what it does for me.’ We are in a place to work in the plant-based space. When you think about plant-based eating, it does some really great things. It gives chefs a bunch to work with.”
There’s a limited amount of mainstream animal proteins. As a chef, one of the biggest frustrations Barnes hears is the lack of variety. However, there are more opportunities with plant-based foods.
“We’ve got this whole palette out there and frankly, chefs are not used to working with it, and that includes beans,” said Barnes. “It includes all the plants they’re not used to working with.”
Barnes says beans are talented in what they can do to a meal.
“They’re versatile, multifunctional, [and] they can do all types of things really well,” he said. “Some of the things they do would surprise you. They work well in all types of dishes. They’re beautiful little items that we can use to feed people and nourish people—very tasty and carry flavors well.”
Those attributes are what can make dry beans win in those spaces, and across generational divides.
“They support dietary restriction solutions like gluten-free,” said Barnes. “They’re inexpensive, readily available, sustainable and grown in the USA. Those are the top keywords that trend in anything today about business. You all have it in your product, in your structure of the way you run your business world. All we got to do is make it a little better and leverage some of those things that make it how good it is.”
The dry bean industry does face some headwinds. What do they need to do on the innovation front to solve those problems and develop more opportunities? Part two will air Friday on Michigan Ag Today.