WATCH: Planetarians promotes protein- and fiber-packed upcycled ingredients: 'Imagine a ham sandwich where the bread contains more protein than the ham'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags FoodBytes

One of 15 startups pitching at Rabobank’s FoodBytes! event in San Francisco, Planetarians uses a proprietary process to transform defatted oilseeds – the dry matter left after oil extraction - into high-protein, high-fiber ingredients that are now being tested by leading food companies.

While firms such as BioExx and Burcon have attempted to commercialize proteins from oilseeds such as canola without great success, Planetarians is not interested in producing protein concentrates or isolates, but using the entire ‘oilcake’ or ‘meal’ left after oil processing, which can be used as a nutrient-rich flour enabling brands to increase protein and fiber content in everything from pasta to meatballs, said founder and CEO Aleh Manchuliantsau.

“Imagine a ham sandwich where the bread contains more protein than the ham … Imagine a pepperoni pizza when the crust contains more protein than the pepperoni.”

One of a flurry of startups ‘upcycling’ ingredients that currently go to waste or into lower-value animal feed markets, Planetarians has developed a technology that sterilizes, destroys anti-nutrients and functionalizes fiber (making insoluble fiber more palatable) in one-step, Manchuliantsau told FoodNavigator-USA before going on stage at Foodbytes!

“We have several patent pending applications for the upcycling process, ingredients and applications.  

“We use twin screw extruders to break fiber, neutralize anti-nutrients and make the nutrients available for human consumption. Since the process happens at high pressure and temperature we effectively reduce the bio load count​ [sterilize] and hexane ​[which is used in the oil extraction process] levels in the raw ingredients so they meet food grade standards.”

Our scientists love to joke that we combined UHT and HPP technologies in one

He added: “Our scientists love to joke that we combined UHT and HPP technologies in one step and can process any garbage from the trash can. But jokes aside, we’ve played in our lab with multiple by-product streams including various defatted seeds such as sunflower, canola and rapeseed, cotton, and oil palm], distillers dried grains such as corn, wheat, and barley, and other types of solid food waste.

“However, we’re focusing on sunflower for now, since it’s allergen-free, Non-GMO, and the oilcake has 35% protein, but we’re ready to extend the product line according to market needs and application​ [requests]. For instance, for light cracker applications (saltines) we recently developed a decolored version of initially dark flour from defatted sunflower seeds.”

PLANETARIANS pizza cropped

Seed round backed by Barilla

Planetarians’ sunflower meal has three times the protein (35%) and twice the fiber (18%) of wheat flour, claimed Manchuliantsau, who has just closed a $750k seed round backed by Barilla Group's BLU1877, Techstars, SOSV, The Yield Lab, Italian poultry specialist Amadori and oilseed processor Cereal Docks.

The Barilla R&D team conducted lab tests on the ingredient last year, leading to full scale trials at an R&D facility in Parma on pasta, bread, biscuits, tortillas and crackers (which have a distinctive dark color), followed by an offer to invest, while Amadori has been testing the ingredients in meat and vegetable protein blends, he said.

“30% replacement of bulk ingredients with flour from Planetarians helps food brands to create bakery applications that can make a good source of protein claim.”

planetarians at foodbytes cropped
Planetarians founder and CEO Aleh Manchuliantsau at Rabobank's FoodBytes! event in San Francisco in late March, 2019


CPG brands Planetarians is talking to are interested both in developing new products with the upcycled ingredients or reformulating existing lines to boost fiber and protein content, he said.

“We bring companies and customers cost savings, replacing expensive protein ingredients with inherent nutrition from the flour.”

Asked about labeling, he said: “For our chips ​[a CPG product launched by Planetarians online to showcase its key ingredient] we used ‘sunflower meal,’ but customers suggested that we use ‘defatted sunflower seed flour,’ which sounds healthier, and​ [ensures] there is no confusion with meal.”

Planetarians​ is launching a contest to discover the best recipe from upcycled ingredients.  

Click HERE​ for details.

Planetarians is an ingredient tech company but launched chips using its upcycled materials last year as a proof of concept
planetarians-pasta cropped
Pasta made with defatted sunflower seeds
planetarians bread cropped
Bread made with defatted sunflower seeds

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