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Shifting consumer preferences for healthier choices, concerns about climate change, and population growth drive demand and prices for plant-based proteins.
Imagine my fascination, when I learned that Sunflower oilcake fed as concentrates to cattle have more protein by weight than beef has. We supply 35% protein feed to cows to get 26% protein from beef. We use up to 7kg of oilcake to get 1kg of beef. Isn’t it ridiculous?
Historically, oilcake has been used in animal feed because of its hard, wood chip-like texture. We puffed the fiber in oilcake, making it palatable and protein-available for human consumption.
We got an ingredient with 3x more protein than grain flours like wheat and rice, and 10x lower cost compared to other plant-based proteins. This manufacturing process was tested and optimized at the University of Minnesota. The resulting product was certified for nutritional content by Medallion Labs.
We can make it, but will they eat it?
To answer this question, we made high protein chips from sunflower oilcake and launched on Amazon this Spring.
Traction within first three months after launch highlights the opportunity to expand the product line to other categories, where plant-based proteins drive growth: prepared foods, salty snacks, cookies and crackers, diet and nutrition, cereal and granola, desserts, yogurt.
We see tremendous potential to add our plant-based protein, high-fiber ingredient into popular formulations, and make them healthier at the same price.
So what’s the plan?
Extrusion technology that we use to sterilize and puff the oilcake in one step yields a low cost ($0.18/lb) and leaves the fiber beneficial for our body. But unlike isolated protein, fibrous Sunflower oilcake requires extra work during product formulation.
We defined killer applications and visualized them on our Product Roadmap.
We plan to develop prototypes, crowdfund initial orders to test demand, and strike partnerships with manufacturers in different categories to bring products on the market.
To make multiple prototypes fast and well, PLANETARIANS partnered with Mattson, the most successful independent food and drink product development company in North America.
How big is the market?
My second “a-ha” moment happened when we pulled data from the USDA to learn how much oilcake is produced annually. The world’s supply of oilcake – what remains after oils are extracted from a variety of crops like sunflower seeds, cotton seeds, canola, etc - was 334.82 million metric tons in 2017! That’s enough to feed 1.5B people without growing extra crops!
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