Globally, there is a growing trend in food: the replacement of meat proteins by vegetables, a process in which legumes play a leading role due to their high protein power.
Although in Argentina this commitment to vegan diets is still in its infancy, the SME Terra Agroalimentos SRL, based in the town of Mi Granja –located 17 kilometers east of the city of Córdoba–, trusts that it is a process of transformation who came to stay and three years ago started making vegetable noodles.
Under the Makarona brand, they make pasta of the varieties fusilli and casarecce obtained from the processing of legumes produced in Córdoba fields: chickpea, black and red beans, peas and lentils.
“They are gluten-free foods based on legume flour; nothing from wheat is used. They are very rich in protein and fiber, ideal for those who want to follow healthy diets or for those who do sports and are looking for a protein boost in their nutrition, “says Cristian Merdinian, managing partner of Terra.
Currently, the firm produces between 10 and 12 tons per month of these noodles that are eaten like any other: they cook in just eight minutes and can be accompanied by a sauce or included in a salad.
“Parents who want to vary their children’s diets are using them a lot. It is not easy for children to eat legumes, but as noodles it is easier ”, adds Merdinian.
Makarona’s main market is the domestic one: the product is available in diet stores and soon they hope to reach supermarkets, which are slowly starting to incorporate “healthy” gondolas into their commercial surfaces.
But the great novelty of Terra is that it began its process of expansion at the international level: this Monday, it sent the first shipment of five tons to Chile. The volume does not seem so great in absolute values, but it is significant in relative terms if it is taken into account that it represents around half of the monthly production.
“We had to do overtime and work Saturdays and Sundays to accomplish everything,” says Merdinian.
This export to Chile was born after participating in a trade mission to that country.
They also made contacts in Paraguay and closed a sale, but the operation is delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed the authorization processes.
However, Merdinian estimates that in no more than a month the second export truck will leave for Paraguay.
“Since we started the company, we had in mind that, in addition to supplying the local market, we had to export. And it is a fairly novel product, because most firms make pasta only with chickpea flour; we decided to incorporate other legumes ”, he mentions.
The manager of Terra Agroalimentos, where about 10 people work among direct and indirect employees, highlighted the support of the provincial government through the ProCórdoba Agency, which assigned Farías Consultores as advisers to advance in all the processes necessary to export.
“Now you cannot do trade missions, but you are organizing video calls to reach other markets in South America,” he adds.