Project Aims to Turn Sunflower Oil Industry Waste Into Meat Alternatives

A new research project called Taste2Meat is attempting to upcycle byproducts from the sunflower oil industry into sustainable meat alternatives.

Five organisations — VTT, DSM, DIL German Institute of Food Technologies, University of Helsinki, and ABP Beef — have joined forces for the project. The intention is to create products that will allow consumers to make a “smooth transition” towards plant-based foods.

Specifically, the project will work with sunflower press-cakes — an ingredient that is a sidestream of sunflower oil production. Globally, sunflower is the third-largest seed oil source, meaning these byproducts are widely available. Pea and rapeseed proteins are also being used as part of the project.

Vegan Chocolate Range ExtraVeganZa
© Cargill

Sunflower in plant-based products

While sunflower oil has long been used in products such as dairy-free margarines, some companies are exploring the potential of other sunflower-derived ingredients. At the beginning of the year, Cargill launched vegan chocolate made with sunflower powder, which the company claimed was the first of its kind.

Other plant-based products containing sunflower include SunflowerFamily’s high-protein cereal and Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream made with sunflower butter.

“Our food system is going through an unprecedented crisis and there is an even higher risk of global food insecurity compared to 2-3 years ago. Therefore, we must efficiently utilize existing plant-based side-streams as high-value protein ingredients for food. The Taste2Meat project contributes to a zero-waste and sustainable food system by upcycling sunflower press-cake as a protein ingredient and designing both hybrid (meat and plant protein) and solely plant protein-based tasty meat alternatives to European consumers,” said Nesli Sözer, Research Professor at VTT.

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