Yellow peas have become a highly appreciated product by the agro-food and foodtech industries for the manufacture of alternatives to meat, given the growing trend of veganism. The Zurich-based start-up Planted uses them to manufacture its "planted chicken", and the "vegetable burger" of the American company Beyond Meat is also made with them.
In 2019, France cultivated 154,000 hectares of yellow peas, according to the declaration made to request grants from the European Agricultural Policy (CAP). That is twice as much as in 1981, when the production was reserved exclusively for animal feed.
"There are more and more industrialists extracting the pea protein for synthetic meat," said Judith Burstin, a geneticist at the Inrae Dijon Research Institute, who led the teams that sequenced the pea genome in 2019. These yellow peas, which are GMO and gluten-free, are at the crossroads of two revolutions: food and climate, says Burstin. With an average protein content of 23%, they are one of the best possible alternatives to meat.
The agricultural sector in France expects to obtain an increase in specific European aid to protein crops (currently 187 Euro per hectare) in the framework of the future protein plan announced by French President Emmanuel Macron.
In France, out of the 621,000 tons of yellow peas harvested in the 2019-2020 campaign, it is estimated that 140,000 tons were absorbed by the industry for protein extraction, according to the FranceAgriMer market management body.