Researchers from the Estonian Centre of Food and Fermentation Technologies have made it to the final six of the global XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion competition with “salmon” made from pea protein.
According to Sirli Rosenvald, the head of meat alternatives and plant proteins at the Estonian Centre of Food and Fermentation Technologies, reaching the final stage of the XPRIZE competition is a “tremendous recognition” for the centre’s researchers’ work, as they compete against other teams for the USD15 million prize.
As demand for meat increases with the world’s growing population, XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion seeks to more sustainable and versatile alternative “meat” products capable of competing with conventional products on the market.
Research groups around the world are developing meat alternatives from plant-based sources, using preferred local raw materials, such as oats, beans and peas, for example, in Estonia. With technology developing, the first fillet-like products can already be found on supermarket shelves.
Rosenvald’s research group, consisting of six young dedicated Estonian food scientists with an average age of 30, submitted an application for the XPRIZE competition in December 2020, and the final event will take place next year.
A thorough analysis and tasting samples
The researchers’ goal is for the salmon fillet alternative to come to market as a real product, under the brand of either a local Estonian or foreign company.
To qualify for the final stage of the XPRIZE competition, each team had to submit samples of their alternative “salmon” fillet to the judging panel, the competition’s independent evaluation committee. These samples underwent thorough analysis and were evaluated based on nutritional value, texture, their environmental impact and economic potential. Additionally, during the semi-finals, the team had to serve the samples to the judges for evaluation of their similarity to real salmon.
XPRIZE is a global movement delivering breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. It inspires and empowers a global community of problem-solvers to positively impact the world by crowdsourcing solutions through large-scale competitions, tackling the world’s grandest challenges.
The Estonian Centre of Food and Fermentation Technologies is a centre for biotechnology and food science in Estonia, employing over 100 researchers.