Meat, eggs, avocado. Much of the food we have been accustomed to eating has a major impact on the climate, and if we are to combat global warming in the future, it will require innovation in food, technology and value chains. No stones can be left unturned in the transition to a more sustainable society.
At the Technical University of Denmark, just like every other universities, students drink a lot of beer. But when the world’s breweries supply beverages to parties and events, it generates almost 40 million tonnes of residual product mash annually.
A DTU startup has set out to change that. Science Brew is a circular food consortium working with new and sustainable food technology. By minimizing raw material consumption and utilizing and reusing the by-products for new types of food, the goal is to change the imprint of beer production on the world’s resource accounts. The key words are circular thinking, energy reduction and intelligent use of resources.
“With our approach, we make ‘zero waste beer’ through a circular process, where we recycle the waste products associated with making beer. After brewing a batch of beer, most breweries are left with large amounts of the residual product mash, which contains protein, sugar and antioxidants. We run it through a patented filter press developed at DTU, which divides it into a liquid and a dry matter part, which we use to make various snacks – such as our Beer tapenade or our ‘Beerchos’,” says Anca Elena Onciu, who is a co-founder of Science Brew.
The startup has also had local collaborations. When Sticks’n’Sushi in Lyngby had large amounts of rice left over every night for a period of time, it was delivered to Science Brew. Through their patented technology, the rice was recycled into a beer that the sushi chain’s guests could afterwards enjoy for their meal. The name is Gohan Biiru, which means rice beer in Japanese, and is only available on cask, which is the most sustainable choice. Nothing is lost. The circle is completed.
According to the people behind Science Brew, it is the good circular stories like the sushi beer that will eventually make people make more sustainable choices.
“For us, it’s both about the unique taste and about the story behind it. We work so experimentally that each beer can vary. I think that appeals to people who increasingly appreciate that the products are natural and sustainably produced.”
“In addition, we must continue to talk about the green transition. When I talked about using waste for beer a few years ago, people thought it was weird. But today, more and more people think that it’s cool that we can recycle residual products to create new value,” says Anca Elena Onciu.
The company already has many ideas in the pipeline. Among other things, one about incorporating mash in high-fiber muesli bars and another one about replacing part of the meat in sausages with the residual product.
About: Science Brew
- Science Brew is a circular food consortium that, with new and sustainable food technology, utilizes and recycles by-products from beer production to new types of food.
- The goal of changing the imprint of beer production on the world’s resource accounts with circular thinking, energy reduction and intelligent resource use.
- Science Brew was founded in 2019 and has 4 founders
Coke, fries and an insect burger, please
Many people get chills just at the thought of having to eat an insect. But in the future, we will have to get used to it, according to the foodtech startup Hey Planet, which produces and sells climate-friendly snacks, protein bars, crispbread and meat alternatives – all made from beetles and insects.
The company was founded in 2016 by insect researcher Malena Sigurgeirsdottir and social entrepreneur Jessica Buhl-Nielsen with a mission to create a more sustainable food culture by integrating insects into the general diet.
But why beetles and insects?
“Insects are an absolutely fantastic food that we do not use enough. It is extremely nutritious, high in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, protein – generally many nutrients that we get from animal sources today. In addition, they are very sustainable to produce. They emit about 100 times less CO2 than meat from cattle and are on an equal footing nutritionally. The UN has named them among the world’s most sustainable foods,” Jessica Buhl-Nielsen says.
It takes 20 kilos of feed to produce one kilo of beef. With insects, the ratio is 1:1. The two entrepreneurs primarily use buffalo beetles for their snacks and meat – but only after the insects have been ground to powder.
“The insect we use the most are buffalo beetles. We get them from farms in the Netherlands, where they are raised vertically in a kind of shelf system, so they take up as little area as possible. Here, they are fed with the residual product mask, so it is a very climate-friendly and circular production,” says the Hey Planet founder.
According to the food startup, taste must speak for itself if we are to change our eating habits to more sustainable alternatives in the future. No one gains anything by having ‘the right choice’ imposed by others. They have to try it themselves.
“When hearing about insects, most people think of something they do not immediately feel like eating. But our experience is that as soon as people are allowed to taste it, the mental barrier is broken down.”
“Hopefully at some point, it will become a completely ordinary food. In particular, we are working in order for our patented meat alternative one day to be considered on par with, for example, a chicken burger or a beef steak. In the future, we think it will become completely normal to eat insects,” says Jessica
About: Hey Planet
- Hey Planet wants to promote edible and sustainable foods by offering healthy and tasty snacks and meat alternatives made from insects.
- The company regularly supplies to Irma as well as supermarkets in Germany. In addition, they provide snacks and meat alternatives to businesses and canteens.
- Hey Planet was founded in 2016 and has three employees.
The fruit no one wanted
On a thesis trip to Tanzania, Marianne Dujim from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) experienced a huge waste in the cashew nut value chain. Farmers would not use it. That could not be right, she thought, and set out to make sustainable caramels out of the cashew fruit that usually stands in the shadow of the nut.
The nut that grows on the outside of the fruit makes up only five percent of the total crop and every year about 16 million tonnes of cashews are wasted on the African continent alone, where on average 40 percent of fruit and vegetable crops on or around farms never reach the consumer.
“In many places in Africa, farmers just dispose of the fruit, throw it on the ground and let it rot. Therefore, I started thinking about how to use all that fruit in a better way. Because it simply could not be right that this just went to waste,” says Marianne Duijm, founder of Casju.
The cashew apple, as it is also called, is light red or yellow with lots of pulp and juice and an astringent, slightly sour and sweet taste. And after several experiments in the kitchen, Marianne decided to make caramels out of a paste from the fruit. A successful crowdfunding campaign later the production company Casju was established.
According to the entrepreneur, the transition to sustainable alternatives is very much about accessibility and about interest and curiosity for the entire origin story behind the food.
“Most people are surprised when they see the fruit – and especially the size ratio between the fruit and the nut. So for me, it’s about creating an understanding of the food, which does not just land by itself, ready to eat on a plate. To tell the story of all the stages that precede the final product that we put in our mouths,” says the Casju founder.
And people have opened their eyes to the exotic fruit. Casju has already entered into supply agreements with Irma, Social Foodies, Økoskabet, Verdens Skove, Frøken Øko, Greenliving and received support from the Innovation Fund and the One life Foundation. A few months ago, Marianne had sold so many units that she had run out of packaging to wrap the candies in.
“Right now it’s about consolidating the caramels on the market. But in the long run, I could easily imagine making new types of snacks, because even though it is taken for granted in many places, the cashew fruit can really be used for many things,” says Marianne Duijm.
- Casju sells plant-based snacks made from the cashew fruit, which in most places is otherwise wasted in the harvest of the cashew nut.
- The company has entered into delivery agreements with Irma, Social Foodies, Økoskabet, Verdens Skove, Frøken Øko, Greenliving and received support from the Innovation Fund and One life Foundation.
- The company was founded in 2019 and have one employee.
Everyone deserves a kitchen assistant with artificial intelligence
Mathematics and long equations are not immediately something one associates with great gastronomy and big, culinary arm movements.
But maybe you should. Because with artificial intelligence and technology, the Danish company Plant Jammer has created an ‘infinite cookbook,’ which creates new recipes through an algorithm. Based on the ingredients the user has lying around, Plant Jammer comes up with suggestions for other ingredients that work well with the ingredients, and from there composes a tasty dish. The goal is to support the vegetarian wave and focus on food waste.
But it is important that the green transition never becomes a judgement of anyone, says Michael Haase, CEO of Plant Jammer.
“People are different and need to be treated accordingly. I am convinced that we do not need to polarize so much. Especially on the food part, where everyone has their own religion, that they reinforce every night. One of the most difficult things is to change eating habits. Because people are so hardworking, it takes a lot before they change their minds. Many people think it’s best when it tastes like it used to. And there is nothing wrong with that,” Haase says.
By running a database of three million recipes through the algorithm, Plant Jammer has found patterns in complimentary flavor profiles and created a ‘flavor landscape’ that helps the user put ingredients together. From there, the company has taught the artificial intelligence to work with the gastronomy’s two basic premises: to balance the five basic tastes – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami – and contrast textures – al dente, soft, crunchy and mouthfeel.
In collaboration with American chef Mark Bittman, Plant Jammers has mapped out about ten basic recipes, that all dishes of which are just a variation of. And it sits well with the now 130.000 weekly users. “Convenience is king” in this field, says Haase.
»Surveys show that most Danes alternate between only ten different dishes a year. And we do not have an ambition to change that. It’s more about working with people’s existing behavior than having everyone become vegan tomorrow. It is important that you are not at A and suddenly have to go to Q. Instead, I think that the change will be more successful if it happens in small.
Fakta: Plant Jammer
- With artificial intelligence and technology, Plant Jammer has created an ‘infinite cookbook,’ which creates new recipes through an algorithm. Based on the ingredients the user has lying around, Plant Jammer comes up with suggestions for other ingredients that work with the ingredients, and from there composes a tasty dish.
- The goal is to support the vegetarian wave and focus on food waste. 130,000 use the app weekly.
- The company was founded in 2016, has 21 employees and has just won a major collaboration with the supermarket chain Aldi.