And its rise has been pretty meteoric in a category that has been struggling for years, despite the fact that pasta is quick, affordable and convenient, but is – albeit unfairly – seen by many consumers as a prime source of ‘empty carbs’.
Launched in Detroit in late 2014 by Brian Rudolph and his brother Scott, Banza [ingredients: chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein, xanthan gum] claims to rival the taste and texture of regular wheat pasta, but offers twice the protein and four times the fiber.
And it’s growing fast, going from zero to 2,000+ stores - including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Meijer, Wegmans, and ShopRite - in a little over a year, Brian told FoodNavigator-USA at the Expo West trade show in Anaheim.
“There are a lot of parallels between a better pasta and Greek yogurt. It’s higher in protein, a direct substitute for regular yogurt, a better version of what you’re already eating. It looks just like regular pasta, and works in all the same dishes, but it’s made from chickpeas."
And retailers, he said, are excited about the incremental growth it can bring to a very mature category: “I think there are a lot of really great alternatives to [wheat] pasta today and we’re all going to be building the category together.
"I've already talked to some retailers that have said, ‘Hey, I’m building a bean pasta set in my store,’ and the fact we can be part of that is awesome.”
Read about some other players in the emerging pulse-based pasta category HERE.