Cost-effective Humanitarian Food Aid

Repurposing defatted seeds from animal to human consumption creates an opportunity to create new meals for food aid at a fraction of the cost of current ones.The FDA recommended 2000 cal daily intake now can be sustainably manufactured under $1.

Open Pilot Proposal


The modern world presents a dual problem – rising obesity levels in developed countries, combined with undernourished people in the developing world. These problems have become worse with time.

In 1985 in the U.S., no state had an adult obesity rate higher than 15 percent; in 1991, no state was over 20 percent; in 2000, no state was over 25 percent; and, in 2006, only Mississippi was above 30 percent. In 2015, nearly 38 percent of U.S. adults are obese.  [NHANES, 2013- 2014 data]

According to a United Nations report released in 2017, the current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. India is expected to surpass China as the most populous nation around seven years from now, and Nigeria will likely overtake the United States to become the world’s third largest country around 35 years from now.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 233 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry/undernourished in 2014-6. In 2012, 501 million people, or 47 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, lived on $1.90 a day or less, a principal factor in causing widespread hunger. (World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa Poverty and Equity Data).

Although Africa is presented through many mediums as the center of world hunger, Asia has always had more hungry people, and more malnourished children, in large part because Asia has so many more people.

  • 70% of all malnourished children in the world live in Asia.

  • 512 million adults and children in Asia consume too few calories, which accounts for over 12% of the total population of Asia.

  • The subcontinent of Asia, including India and Bangladesh, has the highest rate (16%) of malnutrition and the most numbers of the hungry in Asia.

  • In Asia, 17% of females and 13% of males are underweight on average (BMI<18.5).

In the meantime, much of what we feed to animals in developed countries is comprised of food industry by-products, but nonetheless contains high quality and nutritious ingredients, that humans can eat instead.

For instance:

  • Defatted sunflower seeds contain 35% protein by weight, > 26% in beef > 22% in bean/chickpea flour and >20% in up-cycled spent grain flour,

  • Defatted sunflower seeds have 18% fiber by weight, > 2.4% in apple

  • Protein from defatted sunflower seeds costs $1.6/kg, < $4.9 from Soy < $7.8 from Pea

Defatted seeds are the dry matter left after oils are extracted from seeds such as sunflower, canola, cotton seeds, etc.


Repurposing defatted seeds from animal to human consumption creates an opportunity for the creation of new meals at a fraction of the cost of other ingredients with similar nutritional benefits.

The FDA recommended 2000 daily calories can be sustainably manufactured under $1:

COGS: $0.32

-       $0.11 ingredients costs

-       $0.23  manufacturing costs

-       $0.08 packaging costs

Manufacturers margin, 40%

-       $0.21

Distributor margin, 15%

-       $0.09

Retailer margin, 40%

-       $0.40 retail margin, 40%

MSRP: $1.00


Nutritional profile:

Fat – 24.5%

Carbohydrates – 43.5%

Protein 32%

Thus, by-products from the food industry in developed countries can be converted into cost-effective humanitarian aid for the growing undernourished population in Africa and Asia.


PLANETARIANS proposes to co-develop a range of ingredients from defatted sunflower seeds and product formulations for humanitarian aid:

  • nutritionally complete drinks

  • nutritionally complete soup bases

  • nutritionally complete purees, pastes and dips

  • nutritionally complete bakery and dough blends, coatings and breading

We propose selling developed products to the United Nations and a list of charity organizations as cost-effective meals to combat hunger in undernourished and/or food insecure regions.

Recipes, ingredients and manufacturing technology can be licensed for local manufacturing across the world.


Historically, defatted seeds have been used in animal feed as a way to utilize the by-products of oilseed crushing plants. Later, with the growth of demand for animal-based products, defatted seeds turned out to be a valuable source of animal feed. But animals are extremely inefficient tools to produce food.

From the initial calories in defatted seeds, humans get only 17% of that number of calories when we feed defatted seeds to poultry and then consume poultry. We get 9% of that total if we feed defatted seeds to pigs and then consume pork, and 3% (3!) of that total when we feed defatted seeds to cows, and then consume beef.

PLANETARIANS invented a method to re-purpose defatted seeds for human consumption, and filed a patent for the process and ingredients. PLANETARIANS’ patent application prohibits competitors from using defatted seeds in any food product for human consumption.

PLANETARIANS’ manufacturing process was tested and optimized at the University of Minnesota. The resulting product was certified for nutritional content by Medallion Labs.

Market tests of chips from up-cycled defatted sunflower seeds (with 3x more protein, 2x more fiber and 3x less fat per serving than typical potato chips) demonstrated 69% average month-to-month growth, totaling $37,000 in revenue during March-May 2018.

Using SunMeal as an ingredient from defatted sunflower seeds allows food manufacturers to turn regular food into superfood. SunMeal is allergen free and non-GMO, unlike soy-based proteins. SunMeal is 5x cheaper than pea protein, and is a good source of fiber.


Nutritional profile, costs.


If we repurposed all of the defatted seeds wasted or fed to livestock, and made them available for human consumption, we could feed 1.5 billion people for an entire year, without growing any more crops than we already do.


Recipes developed using defatted sunflower seeds as an ingredient can become a technology platform to combat hunger caused by our growing population.

These ingredients can trigger the development of more ingredients from the defatted seeds of other oily crops, such as canola, cotton seeds, etc. as well as other by-products of the food industry, and can be protected by the patent applications for ingredients.


Defatted seeds have a dense texture due to protein and fibrous content, and a dark color.


  • Creates an opportunity to feed the world without growing extra crops

  • Provides access to a new, sustainable source of healthy ingredients

  • Cuts costs for alternative proteins in current formulations

  • Reduces carbon emissions from foodservice operations

  • Creates shared value for collaborators and the Earth


Lab tests show that replacing 30% of a product’s ingredients with defatted seeds doubles the protein and fiber content, while keeping costs and texture the same. Replacing 50% of the ingredients with defatted seeds triples the protein and fiber content, but requires additional work to ensure the texture is as desired.

About author: Aleh Manchuliantsau is a food developer at PLANETARIANS. He previously created and sold over 1 million bottles of nutritionally complete meals. Right now, Aleh is working on up-cycling food waste into tasty and healthy snacks. His goal? To feed a growing population without the need to grow more crops.

Aleh Manchuliantsau