Episode 6

Published on:

11th Apr 2022

Specialty Markets and Sustainability with Chris Wiegert of Healthy Food Ingredients

Chris Wiegert joins the show to talk about his unique role in the pulse crops industry. As both the chief business development officer and chief sustainability officer of Healthy Food Ingredients, Chris has a great sense of various pulse markets and the ins and outs of maximizing value from these crops. Based in Watertown, South Dakota, Chris and his team at Healthy Food Ingredients contract organic, identity preserved and other specialty pulse, small grain, and oil seed crops. 

“All of our facilities are food grade, so we're primarily in that food space, but we're in the middle. We're taking that product from the farmer, we're putting it into whatever form that end-user wants it in and then we're sending it to the end user to make the final food typically.” - Chris Wiegert

Chris discusses what customers are demanding when it comes to pulses including allergen free, identity preserved, and other specialty markets. We also talk about the importance of sustainability to consumers and food companies. This is an area of agriculture that is becoming more and more data-driven, and one that is important for everyone who works with pulse crops to understand. 

It's really a specialty market because you're probably trying to hit a spec, whatever that is, or we're looking for zero toxins or zero heavy metals or something like that. It's a specialty market all the way through, even if you don't consider the crop a specialty crop.” - Chris Wiegert

A big part of that specialty market that has really emerged in recent years is allergen free products. When you’re talking about something as important and as specialized as allergen free, Chris says the entire process from farm to consumer needs to be aligned. Ensuring this type of allergen-free designation takes a lot of communication with growers. As does another type of speciality market: identity-preserved or IP. It seems incredibly tedious to know exactly where every shipment of pulses comes from. Chris says they’re not necessarily tracing it back for potential problems, but for potential opportunities. Having this information provides them with the opportunity to market the farming practices to the consumers.

“Our real niche is working with a customer based on what they feel is important and let's see if we can get all the way to the farm to help it.” - Chris Wiegert

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Chris Wiegert, the chief business development officer and chief sustainability officer of Healthy Food Ingredients
  • Explore the systems and approaches HFI takes to provide the best products for their customers
  • Discover the new marketing opportunities they are able to provide producers by identifying their farming practices, unique ingredient characteristics and sustainability efforts.

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.