New Zealand plant-based meat company Off-Piste Provisions has announced a collaboration with a team of leading food science and technology experts from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to create fungi-based meat-mimic products through biomass fermentation technology.

The research partnership, led by Professor William Chen, the Director of Food Science and Technology programme at Singapore, will develop new technology to cultivate fungi-based food products that upcycle food waste streams.

Off-Piste CEO and founder Jade Gray explained that Off-Piste can utilise fermentation technologies to allow for “smarter” use of our natural resources, keeping those resources in circulation and minimising waste. “Soybean skin, wheat stalk, brewers’ spent grain (a by-product of the beer-making industry) and leftover fruit: all of these currently unwanted waste carbohydrate products can potentially be used as a base product for high-value protein products which require less energy and less water to make and result in a lower carbon footprint.”

Professor Chen explained further: “The fungi used to cultivate the product is grown from a base of nutrient-rich common food waste, which infuses the mushroom root with more essential nutrients such as protein, iron and amino acids… [making] it more nutritious than ingredients commonly used in plant-based alternative meat products, such as peas, chickpeas, wheat gluten, and soy.” 

The partnership announcement comes following advice by New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment that the current annual global rate of food waste is sitting at an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes per year – one-third of all the food we produce.

Gray notes the significance of this estimation, noting “if we can redirect even a smaller proportion of our current waste back into the production stream, it’s going to have a positive impact in extending the useful life of products and materials and regenerating natural systems.” 

“Upcycling these products to cultivate fungi is an opportunity to enhance processing efficiency in the food supply chain as well as potentially promoting a healthier, plant-based protein alternative to enrich diets,” Gray continued.

Gray says Off-Piste Provisions’ focus is not simply to provide a more “taste-friendly” option to consumers, but that “in order to entice the most hardcore of carnivores, we need to tick all the health-conscious boxes, which we are achieving by providing products that taste great and contain sufficient essential nutrients such as iron and protein.”

Prior to founding Off-Piste Provisions, Gray built up years of experience, consumer and market insights relating to New Zealand’s biggest trading partner, China, which he thinks will be useful for the business when it comes time to export. Off-Piste Provisions has received multiple funding grants and collaborated with experts from Massey University and Callaghan Innovation to create its 100% plant-based products, which include meat-free jerky, biltong and toppers.

READ MORE: New Zealand’s Off-Piste Provisions Explores Vegan Meat Made From Fermented Food Waste [Green Queen Media]

READ MORE IN ALTERNATIVE PROTEINS NEWS: Food Frontier News