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Mission: ImPULSEible Food Product Development Competition

Since 2009, Canada’s pulse industry has hosted Mission: ImPULSEible, an annual food product development competition for students from universities, colleges and culinary schools across Canada. The students’ mission is to develop innovative, tasty and marketable food products containing whole pulses or pulse ingredients. Judges evaluate the products based on sensory and health attributes, innovative use of pulses, feasibilty and marketability. Provincial competitions are held early in the year, and the provincial winners compete at the National Mission: ImPULSEible Competition held during the Canadian Special Crops Association’s annual convention.

The competition stimulates new, innovative ideas for pulse based food products. The competitive setting, fueled by the creativity of the students, generates awareness of the growing possibilities and advantages of pulses as food ingredients. This event also inspires students to become more involved with pulse research and development and creates networking opportunities in a unique setting.

The 2011 provincial finalists participated in the National Competition in Vancouver, BC. The teams pitched their product ideas to a panel of three judges in front of an audience that included members of the international pulse industry.

First place was awarded to Paula Duenas, Marshall Bell, Eden Berhe and Kate Alexander from the University of Alberta for “Chickitos”. Offering great taste with added nutrition, Chickitos are a delicate balance between health conscious eating and snack food indulgence. These crispy chips are made primarily of chickpea flour. Chickitos provide key nutrients such as fiber, protein and minerals, while maximizing taste by using a unique blend of chillies and spices. Chickitos are intended to be a healthier alternative to traditional potato chips and are formulated to be gluten-free.

Second place went to Erin Berscheid, Caitlin Olauson and Kaipeng Yu of Rec Boy Inc. from the University of Saskatchewan for the “Benny Bar.” The Benny Bar uses chickpeas and lentils in different ways throughout the bar. The main components of the bar are lentils, granola and a syrup mixture. Within the bar, there is a chickpea butter that mimics the flavour of peanut butter without the allergenic risk. For visual appeal, multi-coloured chocolate coated roasted chickpeas are placed on the top of the bar. The Benny Bar is a highly convenient and nutritionally beneficial source of fibre.

Third place was awarded to Hannah Rotstein, Hilary Watt, and Adi Berk from the University of Guelph for “Dip N’ Go” - a handy snack for adults comprised of bean crisps and dip. The crisps, made entirely of beans, have the appearance of a cracker and the crispness and texture of a chip. They contain chickpea flour, dark red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, white kidney beans, romano beans and baby lima beans. The crisps are paired with a scrumptious dip made of beans, lentils or peas. Three flavours are available – Mexican Fiesta, Mediterranean Garden and Belgian Chocolate.

Judges for this year’s competition were Theresa Almonte (Business Development Manager, Intertek Food & Agri Services), Tony Gaudet (President of Belle Pulses) and Margaret Hughes (Vice President of Best Cooking Pulses Inc). Teams took home $2,500, $1,000 and $500 for first, second and third place respectively. The event was sponsored by Intertek Food & Agri Services.

Other innovative product entries this year included black bean date snacks, pea and lentil noodles, a pulse medley gnocchi, mousse dessert, frozen popsicles, lentil flour bread, chickpea perogies and chickpea cookies.

The products developed in this competition are used to show food manufacturers and foodservice companies what is possible with these versatile food products. The developers of Chickitos, the national winners for 2011, are taking their idea to the next level. They are using their winnings to optimize their formulation in a scaled up processing operation. They are also considering a baked version for a healthier option, as well as different flavouring schemes to cater to a wider consumer base.

The 2012 Mission: ImPULSEible provincial competitions will be taking place next spring. If you are interested in participating in this exciting event, please contact Tanya Der at or refer to for more information.

Mission: ImPULSEible Judges (L-R) Theresa Almonte (Intertek Food & Agri Services), Margaret Hughes (Best Cooking Pulses Inc.), Tony Gaudet (Belle Pulses).