Awareness presents Planted, the Zurich-based start-up company that is currently revolutionizing our diet.
1. How did you actually get the idea to produce planted chicken? What were your motives?
The idea for the project was born out of the urgent need for us to change something, or rather something has to happen. The increase in the world’s population, rising income levels and urbanisation are the biggest drivers for meat consumption. These immense quantities of meat, which are unsustainable for our planet, are putting our planet to the test: the greenhouse gas emissions of the livestock industry currently account for 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions – as much as all means of transport combined. We are definitely eating too much meat and must therefore find a sustainable solution to our global protein needs. When Pascal Bieri, co-founder of Planted, was working in the USA in 2017, he became aware of various meat substitutes. He contacted his cousin Lukas Böni, who was about to complete his PhD in food process engineering. Back in Switzerland, they formulated their idea of producing plant-based and, above all, natural foods. The aim was to have as short and natural a list of ingredients as possible, unlike many other meat substitutes. ETH Professor Erich Windhab brought the two of them together with ETH PhD student Eric Stirnemann, who is particularly familiar with the wet extrusion process. The team was completed by Christoph Jenny, a financial expert who has already gained a great deal of experience in the catering industry. Planted started off with 150,000 Swiss francs from the ETH Pioneer Fellowship. The motives are thus environmental protection, sustainability, animal welfare and health.
2. Meanwhile there are super fine plant-based meat alternatives in menus that lack nothing. The consumer actually eats about the same as a meat menu in terms of appearance and taste. Are you also striving to inspire people to rethink for ethical and ecological reasons?
I do. This question, why meat substitutes at all, comes up again and again. There are different aspects – most people don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, but they like the taste and texture. Tradition is very important to people, even when it comes to food. Switzerland is a country of milk, cheese and meat – we find it very difficult to do without products that we like and that we associate with tradition. Good alternatives make it easier. Contrary to many expectations, our target group is not only vegetarians or vegans, but above all flexitarians who like to find a healthier and more sustainable alternative to traditional meat. These people are looking for the bite, mouthfeel and nutritional value of meat and we are recreating this. We only have an impact on the environment and animal welfare if meat eaters also choose the alternative.
3. Since the film „Game Changer“ a real hype has arisen around the so-called „Plant-based nutrition“. Many friends and also awareness members have changed. In addition, for them as athletes the protein content is very important. How much protein does planted chicken contain? What about vitamin B12?
Planted.chicken contains 25.7 grams of protein per 100 grams. Vitamin B12 is added to the product.
4. Many people who have tried planted chicken, like myself, have been very enthusiastic about it. Is it possible to produce a pure planted beef steak? Or a tuna for a sushi?
Yes, there is, but it still needs research. We are working on various products and types of meat, if you like – as a foodtech start-up and spin-off of ETH Zurich, research is a central topic for us. We understand the differences in different plant proteins, fibres and their mixtures and can thus produce different textured proteins. Our focus on research and technology also enables us to predict, tailor and optimize the structure of our plant meat using various natural plant proteins, fibers and fats. In this way, we create structures that then resemble different types of meat: from fish to chicken to beef. We are currently working on our next product, .pulled.pork, which will be launched in spring 2020.
5. As our awareness project also has a „Business“ section, where we have selected companies with a business awareness that inspire people to behave in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, the question comes to us: can you invest in your start-up?
We completed our financing round at the end of October 2019 and are currently not in the fundraising process. For a next round we recommend you to subscribe to our newsletter, then you will always be up to date or contact us directly.