Dutch consumer group Consumentenbond gave Pedon's red lentil pasta to 15 consumers (without telling them it was made of pulses) to get an idea of their first impression of this increasingly common sight on supermarket shelves across Europe - alternative pasta.
Although most found it didn’t compete with ‘normal’ pasta due to the crumbly texture, several were happy that it was more filling than normal pasta.
Consumentenbond said that had the consumers known what the pasta was made from – most assumed tomato, peppers or squash – they probably would have rated its taste more positively.
Sustainable, clean label and filling
Vania Caron from the marketing department at the Molvena-headquartered company told FoodNavigator Pedon’s pasta can’t be compared to pasta made from wheat or whole wheat, and that it fits in well with the trend for sustainable protein.
“[The satiety aspect] is a key point,” said Caron. “Lentil pasta is more filling and, compared with normal pasta, has double protein, one third less carbs and double fibre, and this is also important.”
“Pulses offer unique nutritional benefits but usually they need a long preparation. We were able to make a pasta with only pulses (lentils in this case) and ready in only six minutes. It looks like pasta but it’s tastier, healthier and gluten free. Furthermore pulses are eco-friendly, they have a smaller impact on the environment compared to wheat.”
Pedon offers three products in its range with a clean-label ingredients list: they contain either red lentils and water; green peas and water or chickpeas and water, and are all non-GMO.
Selling for around €2.29 for 250 g in the Netherlands, Pedon pasta is also available in the UK, France, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and Mexico. “A good result considering that we launched it one year ago,” said Caron.
Market research firm Mintel has clocked a growing interest in alternative pastas , such as gluten-free or fortified varieties, in Europe.
"Pasta manufacturers navigate in a very mature and competitive market that requires serious effort to keep consumers interested," said Mintel food and drink analyst Katya Witham online.
"More recently, pasta makers have also started exploring opportunities in flavoured pasta concepts, reflecting the increasingly experimental nature of consumers, and in particular of younger, more adventurous cohorts," she added.
Editor and researcher at Consumentenbond, Thomas Cammelbeeck, said its survey was too small to be considered a taste test. “We call this a first impression and […] we do this to inform consumers about new products.
Consumentenbond conducts 11 ‘first impression’ tests per year, and six to eight extended testing a year.
“In these [larger] tests we investigate for example fat, salt, nutrition value, sugar and fibre. Then taste is only a part of it. The taste we examine with a panel of consumers and sometimes we add judgments of a couple of experts.”
The next large food test will be for hummus while the next 'first impression' is for vegetable and fruit juice blends.