Commodity Innovation Series – Snapshot of Opportunities in Spain's Pulse Sector

August 2017

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Spain is the second-largest consumer of pulses in the European Union (EU).

Market trends

  • Pulses are an affordable food staple used in several Spanish dishes.
  • Beans, peas, and lentils are an important part of traditional Spanish dishes.
  • Low prices of fresh pulses are popular during low economic periods.
  • Leading pulse players are investing in the production of innovative processed pulse products.
  • Further promotional activities by associations and manufacturers are expected to increase pulse consumption, especially among Vegetarians.
  • Spaniards are looking for healthier lifestyles and higher quality standards in their cuisine.
  • High and upper middle class households and/or households without children consume the most pulses in Spain.

Pulses trade

  • Spain is the third-largest importer of pulses in the EU, with imports worth US$207.5 million in 2016.
  • Canada is Spain's second-largest supplier of pulses in the world worth US$43.8 million in 2016.
  • 86% of Spain's pulse imports were lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Combined import value of these products was worth US$178.8 million in 2016.
  • Spain relies on imports to meet consumption demand for dried pulses.

Historic and forecast retail sales

Spain's pulses volume sales in 2016
Pulse Percentage of Spain's pulses volume sales
Beans 22%
Peas 3%
Other pulses (including chick peas, cow peas, lentils, etc.) 75%

Retail made up 62% of pulse sales in Spain, followed by institutions with 20%, and food services with 18%.

  • In 2016, pulses sales were worth US$207.1 million in Spain, a slight decline of 1% from 2015.
  • Peas saw the most significant growth with retail sales reaching to US$8 million in 2016, a 3% increase from 2015.
  • Peas saw a 1.4% growth rate from 2012 to 2016.

Frozen shelf-stable peas are expected to see a 4% period growth in volume sales and 2.2% in retail sales from 2017-2021.

  • Beans are expected to see a period growth of 2% from 2017 to 2021.

Pulses used as an ingredient

  • From 2006 to 2016, 3,539 pulse products were launched in Spain.
  • Top product launch categories were vegetables, prepared meals, and meat substitutes.
  • Major companies launched 17.6% of Spain's pulse products.
Top companies launching the most value-added products and their top brands in Spain
Company name Company brand Number of products launched
Lidl Vitasia 180
Carrefour Carrefour 130
Dia Dia 107
Grupo Eroski Eroski 101
El Corte Inglés Aliada 93

Companies are expected to put greater emphasis on the health benefits in pulse consumption

Top 5 growing claims:

  1. Vitamin/Mineral Fortified
  2. Dairy Free
  3. Added Calcium
  4. Low/No/Reduced Fat
  5. High/Added Fiber

Top 5 declining claims:

  1. Low/No/Reduced Glycemic
  2. Diabetic
  3. High Satiety
  4. Low/No/Reduced Carb
  5. Other (Functional)

Packaged pulse options are rising in demand

Top package type:

  1. Flexible
  2. Tray
  3. Jar
  4. Carton
  5. Tub

Top packaged materials:

  1. Plastic
  2. Glass plain
  3. Polypropylene plastic
  4. Metal steel
  5. Multi layer board

Top innovative markets for pulses in Europe

Over 81% of product launches were new products, varieties, and ranges.

Description of this image follows.
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Product innovation rating scale
Innovation criteria United Kingdom France Germany Spain Netherlands Italy Poland Ireland Austria Czech Republic
Relaunch 6 5 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1
New product 16 15 17 17 16 16 18 19 16 19
Product line diversity 16 16 16 16 16 13 13 11 14 2
Health and wellness claims 20 20 20 20 20 20 18 19 17 18
Rating scale: Excellent (20-17), Very Good (16-13), Good (12-9), Fair (8-5), Low (4-0)

Factors for consideration:

  • The EU is a common market and imports must comply with applicable EU regulations. Custom duties are applied to all products and rates depend on a variety of factors.
  • Value-added tax, insurance, and freight cost should be included in import value.
  • Imports from a third country must clearly identify the country of origin.
  • The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU will reduce tariffs and some Canadian processed pulses products will be allowed to enter the EU duty-free. For more details, please consult our CETA page where you will find a Factsheet on processed pulses.

Recommendations for entry:

  • Develop a good understanding of regulations and procedures to make sure your products are compliant with them.
  • Consult with your importer to be aware of all the requirements applicable in the market you want to reach.
  • Follow import regulations to avoid imports being detained for non-compliances.
  • Develop a clear market strategy and an extended knowledge of the targeted maket prior to entry.
  • Other requirements may apply (for example, labelling, packaging, additives allowed) so make sure you are aware of them.

How we can help

We offer multiple programs and services to help you achieve your international business goals, such as the Agri-Food Trade Service, AgriMarketing Program, and Canada Brand. International Trade Commissioners are also an excellent point of contact for export advice and can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions, and local business contacts.

Have we piqued your interest?

For more information on opportunities in Spain or to join our distribution list, make suggestions, or request more information, contact Single Window at

Find out about our programs, services and tools to support Agri-Food Trade Services for Exporters.

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Commodity Innovation Series – Snapshot of Opportunities in Spain's Pulse Sector (PDF Version, 278 KB)

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