It’s about time beans get the attention they deserve. The deliciously versatile food group is a staple among some of the longest-living people on the planet and packs a bevy of health benefits—like plant-based protein and gut-friendly fiber—at a low cost. While Americans have been eating certain varieties of beans (such as pinto, navy, and red kidney beans) for centuries, all signs point to a beloved overseas staple starting to dominate store shelves and dinner plates in 2023: the lupini bean (also called lupin bean), a yellow cousin of the lima bean with roots in the Middle East that has a recorded history of use that dates back to Ancient Egypt.
These environmentally-friendly legumes are similar to fava beans in terms of size and shape, but their subtle earthy, nutty flavor is closer to that of soybeans—and they’re already showing up in a variety of packaged food products in the form of pop-em-in-your-mouth crunchy lupini snacks, pastas, tater tots, and protein bars. In 2023, as Americans increasingly gravitate towards budget-friendly, high-protein plant foods that pack a boatload of nutrition (and taste good), expect lupini beans to become a starring source of plant-based protein that benefits people and the planet alike.$142m
The overall legume market has been on the rise for the last few years, quickly becoming a staple for plant-based eaters in search of nourishing protein sources. “According to Innova Marketing Insights, nearly 3,300 new products containing pulses [the edible seed from a legume plant, which includes beans, peas, and lentils] launched in 2021, and more than 2,300 have been launched so far in 2022,” says Becky Garrison, director of domestic marketing at USA Pulses. In 2022, Future Market Insights valued the lupini bean protein market at $89 million, and by 2032, they project its value to reach $142.4 million, meaning demand for this plant-based protein source is expected to grow by over 60 percent in the next 10 years. Market research company Technavio estimates that the overall, global lupini bean market will grow by nearly $8 billion annually over the next four years alone.