Lentils Commodity Fact Sheet

WBSCM Material Description and Number

LENTILS BAG-50 KG    100560

General Information

Lentils are pulses available for food aid in the Regular Lentil variety. They are a cool season crop planted in early spring and harvested in late summer in the cooler climates of the Northern Plains and the Palouse (including eastern Oregon and Washington and Idaho) regions of the United States. For more information on lentil characteristics, production, nutritional content, and processing, refer the United States Dry Pea and Lentil Council (http://www.pea-lentil.com/technical-manual). Lentils are packaged in 50-kilogram polypropylene woven bags whose fabric contains an inhibitor to resist ultraviolet absorption and an anti-skid coating. If stored at less than 15 percent moisture and under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, lentils have a shelf life of up to three years; however, long storage may cause discoloration, hardness or moisture absorption. For full product specifications refer to the USDA Commodity Requirements Document for Peas and Lentils.

Programming Guidance

Lentils can be programmed in emergency or development settings as illustrated by the 2011 Food Aid Quality Review (FAQR) Report decision trees:

  • Emergencies: Lentils may be provided with oil and either a fortified flour/meal or grain in the second phase of emergency food distribution. Either corn soy blend (CSB) programmed with oil or a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) should be added as a targeted supplement to this ration, for children under two (U2). In a longer-term emergency, lentils may be provided in Food for Assets, Food for Work, Food for Training, as well as Vulnerable Group Feeding, and Food for Education programs.
  • Development: Lentils may be used as part of a general household ration, along with a grain and oil, where this is appropriate. Lentils may also be provided in Food for Assets, Food for Work, Food for Training, as well as Vulnerable Group Feeding, and Food for Education programs.

Nutrition/Preparation Information

Lentils are consumed as a source of affordable protein in south Asia, especially India, the Middle East, and parts of Central and South America. They are a good source of complex carbohydrates, plant-based protein, copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6 and zinc and an excellent source of fiber, folate, iron, manganese, phosphorus and thiamin. When combined with grains, lentils contribute complementary amino acids to create a complete protein meal. Lentils can be prepared using a variety of methods; typically lentils are boiled or simmered to make a variety of globally consumed dishes, such as soups, stews, salads, curries or baked goods. Lentils are simple to prepare, requiring no soaking; they should be sorted, rinsed, combined with double the amount of water, and boiled for 25 to 30 minutes. If lentils are soaked for eight hours prior to cooking, the cooking time can be reduced to 10 to 12 minutes, which will conserve fuel. 

USDA Nutrient Database

In the USDA Nutrient Database (http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/) search for:

USDA Commodity Requirements Document


Shelf Life/Best if Used By Date (BUBD)

  • Shelf life - not available 
  • BUBD - not available


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2015. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Services Agency. 2015. USDA Commodity Requirements. PL6 Peas and Lentils for Use in Export Programs. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/Comm-Operations/pdf/pl6.pdf

USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. 2010. Resources. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from: http://www.pea-lentil.com/resources USA Dry Peas & Lentil Council. 2010. Technical Manual.  Retrieved September 30, 2016 from: http://www.pea-lentil.com/technical-manual

Webb, P., B. Rogers, I. Rosenberg, N. Schlossman, C. Wanke, J. Bagriansky, K. Sadler, Q. Johnson, J. Tilahun, A. Reese Masterson, A. Narayan.  2011.  Delivering Improved Nutrition: Recommendations for Changes to U.S. Food Aid Products and Programming.  Retrieved September 30, 2016 from: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADZ842.pdf

Last updated: November 14, 2016

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