Pasta made from yellow peas hits the market

AGT Foods recently started distributing VeggiPasta in stores.

AGT Foods' new product, Veggipasta, recently hit the shelves in North Dakota. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

BISMARCK, N.D. — When AGT Foods looked to move into the U.S. market, working with farmers growing pulse crops in North Dakota and Montana was a focus.

The two states are known for their production of chickpeas, lentils and dried peas. AGT Foods, which started in Regina, Saskatchewan, opened a factory in Williston, N.D., in 2007 and Minot, N.D., in 2011, said Eric Bartsch, division head for global food ingredients for AGT.

Bartsch is based in Bismarck, and he explains AGT Foods has more than 40 factories around the world, including in the U.S., Canada, Australia, China, South Africa and Turkey.

“We’re one of the largest pulse-based processors in the world,” he said.

At the Minot factory, AGT Foods cleans, splits and mills pulse crops into granulated flours, separating proteins and starches. For the most part, those products are then sold to other companies to serve as ingredients in a variety of foods, including snacks, non-dairy milks and pet foods.


“What we’re doing in Minot is unique, not only for our company but for pulses globally,” Bartsch said.

Now a new addition at the Minot facility will take one ingredient — flour from yellow peas — and use it to make a new product that AGT believes will take off globally. Single ingredient Veggipasta, newly on shelves in grocery stores across North Dakota, already is garnering attention from retailers and food distributors, Bartsch said.

“The opportunity for this pasta is big,” he said. “This is a product that is really going to go from the farmers’ fields in North Dakota to Minot and distribute it around the world. We have plans on moving this product globally.”

Leaders in peas

In 2019, U.S. farmers produced 22.346 million pounds of dried peas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of that, 19.416 million pounds — or nearly 87% — were raised in Montana and North Dakota.

The two states also are among the leaders in lentils and chickpeas.

“It fits well within this region, and it’s really one of the reasons we wanted to position ourselves here,” Bartsch said.

He estimates AGT works with more than 2,000 farmers in North Dakota and Montana to source pulse crops for its Minot and Williston factories. Since the crops are grown for food ingredients, there are some requirements for growing for the company. Bartsch said keeping the pulses away from wheat and soy is important for allergen issues. Pesticides also can be an issue.

“Those are requirements that our customers are asking for,” Bartsch explained.


The company has three buyers working out of the Bismarck office. And if the company’s new products take off, the buyers might need to get busy.

‘No other ingredients’

Veggipasta, made of yellow peas, look and taste very similar to pasta made from durum. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

AGT has been working on creating pasta made with yellow peas since last year. So far, it’s garnered a spot in the National School Lunch Program. Bartsch said the pasta holds up well in the canning process and also is gluten free, both traits that make it attractive for the program.

An East Coast university food service professional tried the pasta and told Bartsch it was "one of the best pastas he's had."

"And they’re incorporating it now into their program in the university,” Bartsch said.

In recent months, AGT decided to take the product into the retail realm, branding it VeggiPasta.

“It’s just yellow peas,” Bartsch said. “There are no other additions to the pasta.”

The pasta takes only a few more minutes to boil than traditional pasta, and it looks and tastes pretty much the same as similar products made from durum.


“You’re eating peas, and you don’t realize you are,” Bartsch said.

So far, Veggipasta just comes in rotini, but other shapes will be coming soon, Bartsch said. And the Minot factory is working on other products, like texturized protein and extruded snacks. Another product in the works is “bread crumbs” made from peas, called “Veggicrumb.”

Veggipasta is available in grocery stores across North Dakota. For more information about where to find it, visit .

To learn more about growing for AGT Foods, call 701-751-1623 or visit

Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at or 701-595-0425.
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