Barcelona-based alternative protein company Heura is tackling waste within the foodtech industry with a new scientific approach which capitalises on under-utilised plant sources.
Good Rebel Tech (GRT) will produce macro- and micro-nutrient dense foods in a way that exploits the intrinsic properties of plants and avoids overly complex chemical processing.
In order to make plant-based foods that are rich in protein, food scientists often concentrate on extracting proteins from a plant source.
While this is effective, it is wasteful in that it only uses certain parts of a plant. In contrast, GRT will focus on how plant sources can be used in their whole original forms, as well as how by-products from food manufacture can be used to a similar end.
“Instead of focusing on extracting and isolating proteins from legume seeds, we are researching ways to leverage the functionality of whole plants in their naturally occurring structures,” said Isabel Fernández, Heura Science and Technology Director.
By following this approach, Heura will be able to take advantage of the naturally occurring micro-nutrients within certain plant sources, instead of manually adding them at a later stage of the process.
According to Fernández, the Heura R&D team has developed the new scientific approach by leveraging similar discoveries within cellular plant physiology, colloids and biopolymer science, as well as computational fluid dynamics and engineering.
“We’ve been able to create a technological platform that rewrites current plant-based food processing rules, and leads to a new sustainable manufacturing ecosystem,” she added. “We are engaged in cutting-edge research in collaboration with world leading scientific experts to address the greatest technological challenges the plant-based industry is facing today.”
GRT will be filing its first patents in the field of “nutritionally superior plant-based products” throughout 2022.
Marc Coloma, Co-Founder and CEO of Heura, said the move to tackle food waste is timely, given that so many other industries have undergone “critical technological transitions to increase sustainability”.
The problem of food waste is an immense one – roughly one third of the food produced in the world is wasted. This is equivalent to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, according to the UN Environment Programme.
“We’ve created Good Rebel Tech to pave the way for animal-meat successors that are derived directly from nature using low carbon-footprint technologies,” said Coloma. “Our aim is to leverage technology to provide holistic solutions that are more sustainable and nutritious than ever before.”
Tackling food waste is the latest move from Heura in what has already been a very busy year for the start-up.
Last month, it attracted €4M in crowdfunding investments in just 12 hours. Additionally, its most recent partnership with food influencers Bosh! brought the first vegan chorizo-inspired burger to the UK market.
The team isn’t stopping there, with Coloma promising that up to 10 further products are in the pipeline to be released this year.