BENEO has recently expanded its portfolio by ingredients from faba bean. Reason enough for us to take a closer look at this interesting crop. Because faba bean is becoming more and more attractive for both the food industry and agribusiness.
Since March, we have been following the growth of faba beans on Südzucker’s experimental farm Kirschgartshausen in the north of Mannheim, Germany. This farm with its approximately 300 hectares of land is a place where innovative cultivation methods are tested. And while we closely observe the development cycle of the faba beans, the renowned photographer Dennis Möbus captures breathtaking images of the entire growth process of this fascinating crop for us.
Reviving an ancient superfood: Unleashing the potential of faba beans for agriculture, nutrition, and beyond
Faba beans, also known as fava or field beans, are among the world’s oldest cultivated plants and are regaining popularity in agriculture today. The cultivation of the faba bean dates back almost 9,000 years. Until the 18th century, the healthy bean was a staple food in Europe. Today, the faba bean is either completely unknown, or it is known as cattle feed. However, with the rise of organic farming and the growing demand for plant-based proteins, the faba bean is gaining renewed relevance.
The importance of faba beans lies primarily in their high nutrient density and their positive influence on soil health. That makes them interesting not only for agriculture, but also for nutritional science, food industry and the development of new food products.
A visual narrative of faba bean growth and development
One of the most interesting observations we could make is how fast this plant grows. Within a few weeks the faba bean plants reach a final height of 80-100 cm and are covered with flowers. We eagerly awaited the formation of the beans themselves. A step that we were able to experience first hand through the exciting photo project. Due to ideal weather conditions, the less demanding beans were able to grow and thrive excellently. Despite heat and drought, the beans have developed very well in recent weeks and are now fully mature. Therefore, they could already be harvested at the beginning of July, a step that was also accompanied through the lens of Dennis Möbus.
He is a photographer with a special eye for detail. Hence, he can provide us with a visual narrative through his images. His art allows us to view the faba beans in a way we could not otherwise experience. Each photo tells a story and gives us insights into the different stages of growth: from sowing beginning of March, to the breaking through of the seeds, the flowering as well as the bean formation, up to the harvest not even a week ago… We can’t wait to share these unique images with the outside world for our future communication on plant-based nutrition. So join us on this fascinating adventure to explore the faba beans.
Why faba beans are a promising plant for the future
Overall, we are impressed by how robust and resistant to environmental influences this plant is. But their nutritional quality is also impressive. This is because faba beans contain a considerable amount of high-quality vegetable protein. Therefore, they offer a multitude of benefits for a healthy, plant-based diet. It can for that reason serve as a valuable alternative to animal based-protein for vegans and vegetarians.
With a protein content of about 30 percent, the faba bean has just two percent fat. The carbohydrate content is a maximum of 50 percent. This makes the faba bean a healthy food that can be used in a variety of dishes, from baked goods and dairy alternatives, over cereals, meat and meat alternatives to pasta and snacks. When looking at plant-based baked goods, for example, it is always a challenge replacing eggs in a reformulation. With faba bean concentrate, it is possible to replace whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks. This makes it a flexible egg replacer, for example, in a traditional muffin recipe, while maintaining texture and flavor.
Another remarkable property of the faba bean is its ability to fix nitrogen from the air, store it in its roots and release it into the soil. Thus, they provide nitrogen for fertilisation not only to themselves, but also to the following crop. In this way, they improve soil health and promote their own growth and that of the following plants. At the same time, they reduce the need for fertilisers and thus support sustainable agriculture. This is particularly interesting in the current situation with rapidly rising energy prices and therefore very expensive fertilisers. Also, when the plant flowers in spring, it provides nectar and pollen for insect populations. This has a positive effect on biodiversity.
The combination of these benefits makes faba beans a promising crop for the future. They can support a healthy diet, contribute to a responsible farming and open up new opportunities for the food industry. By investing in the cultivation and use of faba beans, companies can benefit from their multiple applications. They also contribute to a more sustainable and healthy future.
We are excited to see what other innovative opportunities will emerge in the future!