Smile for the camera, eat your pulses, love the environment

We should all steal a page from Pulse Canada’s inventive approach to market expansions. The organization’s new Meal Planning for 9 Billion People video campaign pushes just about every button imaginable.

First, the positioning. It sounds elementary, but feeding the world with meals as Pulse Canada suggests rather than simple saying “food” is brilliant. It brings the matter right down to the dinner table, where talk about food gets very practical, very fast.

Second, the message. This campaign is based on sustainability. Because pulses (peas, beans, lentils and chick peas) fix their own nitrogen, they can be positioned as being environmentally superior.  Pulse Canada says that’s good news to the increasing number of companies that are paying attention to their products’ environmental sustainability.

And here’s a happy coincidence — those companies are located in the same developed countries where Pulse Canada wants a stronger presence. As a raw commodity, Canadian pulses are extremely popular in South Asian countries, China, Latin America and the Middle East/North Africa. In fact, Canada is the world’s biggest pulse exporter.

But it’s been harder to break into more lucrative markets in developed countries with further processed pulse products such as cereal, even with the good-health messages that are an intrinsic part of pulses.

So if health messages aren’t working (yet), then how about sustainability? That’s what Pulse Canada is banking on. Denis Tremorin, director of sustainability for Pulse Canada, says food manufacturers in North America and Europe are trying to improve “the sustainability outcomes tied to the products that they sell.”  Pulses, he says, help address that problem.

And finally, let’s not forget the medium. Video is a brave choice for telling stories about plants. Visually, pulses – or any crop, for that matter – just aren’t the most exciting thing on the farm. But through professional production, and with a credible narrator, Meal Planning for 9 Billion People excels.  Nice work, Pulse Canada.


Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts directs research communications and teaches at the University of Guelph, and is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. You can find him on Twitter as @theurbancowboy


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