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Finland’s VTT leads effort to find sustainable meat alternatives

Sunflower is the third largest source of seed oil globally, according to VTT Technical Research Institute of Finland.

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is coordinating an international project seeking to develop sustainable meat alternatives to reduce meat consumption and increase protein self-sufficiency in the EU.

The focus of the research project is on utilising sunflower press cakes, a by-product of sunflower oil production, as a protein source for tasty and sustainable meat alternatives.

Nesli Sözer, research professor at VTT, pointed out that the global food system is going through an unprecedented crisis and that the risks to food security have increased in the past couple of years. It is therefore necessary to utilise existing plant-based side streams efficiently 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 protein ingredient and designing both hybrid (meat and plant protein) and solely plant protein-based tasty meat alternatives to European consumers,” she envisaged.

Sunflower is the third largest source of seed oil globally, according to VTT.

The project is funded by EIT Food. Conducted in collaboration with SDM, DIL German Institute of Food Technologies, the University of Helsinki and ABP Beef, it also incudes consumer studies designed to shed light on consumer attitudes and perceptions of meat alternatives and the added value they offer.

“Consumer acceptance has a key role in development of feasible business cases around meat alternatives. Sensory properties such as taste and meat-like texture are the most influential predictors of meat alternatives acceptance,” told Sözer.

By: Aleksi Teivainen