Sustainability on the plate: startup develops meat from unusual materials

In a world where the search for sustainable alternatives to traditional meat is on the rise, a startup Innovator is defying convention by creating meat from unusual materials, including sawdust. In a promising and pioneering way, the company is developing new technologies for the food industry.

Slovenian startup ÄIO has developed a method for producing fats and oils from industrial waste such as wood, straw, sawdust and food waste. These products can be used in the food and cosmetics industries.

Understand how sawdust meat technology works

Photo: ÄIO/Reproduction

“What we have developed is very similar to beer, where yeast is used to convert barley sugars into alcohol, and hops are added for flavor. We are using a different type of yeast that converts sugars from industrial side streams, but not into ethanol – into fats and oils,” explains Petri-Jaan Lahtvee, co-founder of startup ÄIO.

The startup seeks to improve food security through the use of local inputs, taking into account disruptions in global supply chains, such as those occurring during the covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Additionally, she is developing technologies to recycle household food waste such as banana and orange peels.

Photo: Freepik/Reproduction

However, to compete effectively in the Marketplace, it is necessary to make new products more affordable compared to traditional options. This could be achieved by considering the environmental cost and removing government subsidies, according to industry experts.

“The legal barriers are probably the most difficult to overcome, or let’s say they contain the most uncertainty, because in technological terms we can scale the process very well. The biggest unknown for us today is regulations, we all know and understand that food has to be safe. But the processes for applying for a normal food permit today are, so to speak, not very understandable or predictable”, continues Petri-Jaan Lahtvee.

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