Sunflower chips to feed the future
By making chips from up-cycled sunflower oilcake, PLANETARIANS shows that repurposing oilcake (the dry matter left after oil extraction from seeds) from animal feed into human food can feed 1.5 billion extra people without growing additional crops.
"When I was a kid, I had a dream - eat chips whenever I want… At that time, I didn't know that my desire would lead me to help feed our growing population, reduce the impact on the planet, and combat diet-related diseases,” recalls Aleh Manchuliantsau, a food scientist who works on upcycling food waste, and the founder of PLANETARIANS.
By now, you probably know that 40% of food is wasted by consumers. But do you know that before your food even makes it to the grocery store, the manufacturer has already dumped more than half of it?
"Imagine our fascination when we stumbled upon ingredients that were disregarded by the food industry (they were fed to the cows!) and were made of 35 percent clean, plant-based protein," Manchuliantsau says. "That’s compared to the 26 percent protein we get from beef."
The ingredient? Oilcake — the dry matter that's left after oil extraction from crops such as sunflower seeds, cotton seeds, canola, etc.
Oil-crop meal is the by-product of the oil extraction process; while the financial value of the seed lies in the extracted oil, the meal is considered an unwanted by-product. Meal from oil-crops is usually used as a livestock feed for ruminants, like cows
And why is it wasted? The main nutrient in these oilcakes is insoluble fiber that cannot be chewed or digested by humans. It's hard, like wood chips.
We thought, what if instead of protein isolation, we could break the fiber down?
We use steam explosion – an effect that occurs when overheated liquid exposed to the ambient environment expands rapidly, and crushes everything in its path.
What we got turned out to be sunflower chips - the first food product made using sunflower meal as the primary ingredient. General Mills' Medallion Lab verified the nutrition facts. Now we know that our Sunflower chips are a food-grade product that we can commercially manufacture and sell.
Sunflower chips contain a comparable amount of protein to animal products: they are 20% protein, while ground beef is only 17%, and chicken nuggets are only 14%.
Compared to conventional chips, sunflower chips have 3x more protein, 2x more fiber and 3x less fat per serving than typical potato chips.
Who needs them?
More and more people are joining the vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, and reducetarian movements to reduce their impact on the planet.
We also know that Generation Z uses snacks as a primary source of food.
PLANETARIANS chips are for anyone who cares about their health and wants to snack sustainably. They're baked, never fried. They are packed with plant-based protein and free from cholesterol; cholesterol-free diets are associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. They are high in fiber to keep you full, and your gut microbiome healthy. Eating a diet high in fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and other diet-related diseases.
Why Is This Important?
There is at least enough oilcake to feed another America. In fact, our calculations suggest that using oilcake, we can feed 1.5 billion extra people without the need to grow any additional crops. But this is another story...