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.
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.
“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.