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05 Jun 2023

Want to go plant-based? It’s easier than ever thanks to these new innovations in food

Want to go plant-based? It’s easier than ever thanks to these new innovations in food

Scientists, food manufacturers, investors, NGOs and governments are applying new inventions and innovations to shape what will be on our plates tomorrow.

When technology expert Ben Wilding wanted a name for his sustainable cooking oil company, he thought hard about why the company’s mission was so important.

They named it Sun Bear Bioworks after the world’s smallest bear, an animal endangered by deforestation because of palm oil plantations.

“We wanted something to keep us laser-focused on the reason we’re doing this,” Wilding explains.

“90 per cent of palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia. It has had a massive impact on biodiversity, resulting in there being fewer than 1000 sun bears left in the wild. Every time we say the name, it's a memory jog as to why we're here.”

Palm oil is a $70 billion industry (€80 billion) and is expected to grow to $100 billion (€114 billion) by 2030. Wilding believes that in many ways palm oil is a superfood.

“It needs a lot less land than other oils such as olive. It is in over 200 products. It is odourless, tasteless and is semi-solid so can be made into margarine or refined for frying and salads,” he says.

“Our replacement can be made from waste products such as potato peelings from crisp manufacturing. We use precision fermentation to produce an oil with the same properties as palm oil, and gene editing to increase the amount, to make it commercially viable.”

Sun Bear’s alternative oil is at the lab stage, but the company has generated much interest and has secured funding to scale up.

It is just one of many businesses hoping to change the food system and create more sustainable options for the future.

There are currently a host of scientists, food manufacturers, investors, NGOs and governments working to make what we eat better for the planet, for human health and for animal welfare. Together they are applying new inventions and innovations to shape what will be on our plates tomorrow.

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