Lukas Böni, ETH Pioneer Fellow, and his team colleagues Pascal Bieri und Eric Stirnemann develop meat analogues that have the same texture, look and taste as meat. Their novel product planted.chicken is sustainable and animal-friendly. Five questions for Lukas about their startup Planted.
Lukas, can you describe your customers?
Our target customers are a rapidly increasing number of flexitarians - people who generally eat meat but are trying to reduce their consumption to follow a more plant-based diet for reasons such as animal-welfare, leading a healthier lifestyle and reducing the negative impact of large-scale meat production on our environment. If we manage to convince meat-eaters and flexitarians to swap animal-based meals for plant-based meals once or twice a week, we can truly make an impact. Furthermore, the product may also appeal to many vegetarians and vegans because it is high in protein and dietary fibres and contains neither gluten nor soy. We also refuse to use any additives or added flavours in our product. With this we offer consumers a more natural and diverse option of a plant-based product, which is new to the market.
What are the benefits of Planted ‘meat’?
Consumers can be sure to eat 100% plant-based. Our first product planted.chicken consists mainly of nutritious pea protein, is free of cholesterol, hormones, additives, antibiotics, saturated fats and cruelty – all of which can be issues with animal meat. In addition, our product is more sustainable than the animal derived version. Our calculations indicate that our planted.chicken saves up to two thirds of GHG emissions and arable land and uses about half the energy that is required to produce chicken. Moreover, unlike animal meat, our planted.chicken can still get better and more sustainable with progression in technology.
How do you produce the Planted meat and what is the secret behind the meat-like texture?
The production is in many ways similar to a pasta-making process. We use a machine similar to industrial pasta manufacturers, but we set different pressure points and temperatures during the process. Besides, we vary the water contents and use different ingredients. Whereas pasta is made at room temperature, we heat our ingredients with distinct pressure and temperature-zones to assure superior texture. It is the controlled process that leads to the meat-like texture, look, and feel.
Where will your Planted meat be available?
We have received a lot of positive feedback from both industry and costumers at tastings, catering, and other startup events in and around Switzerland over the last few months.
In the next few weeks, we are starting to distribute planted.chicken in a few selected restaurants in Switzerland for the first time. We plan to work with restaurants and food service providers to increase the number of places where people can find our products continuously. It is important to us that those restaurant owners who serve Planted share our idea of great quality and fun-to-eat food.
What are your goals for next year?
We are looking into possibilities of production automation and facilitating processes in general while improving our product with deep-science at the same time. To achieve this and help us get better, we are looking for some bright and talented people to support us on our mission to create plant-based meat alternatives that are indistinguishable from animal meat. Using modern technologies, we want to save as many animals as possible from being fed, grown, and butchered just to provide us with protein.