Will “human inedible” food even exist in the future? One of the arguments in favour of animal agriculture production is that animals upcycle “human inedible” food to “human edible” food. It’s long been my contention that there’s no such thing as “human inedible” food products, just “not yet used for human food” products.
This article demonstrates the point with the investigation of sunflower press-cake as a high protein ingredient for plantbased products. Apparently “sunflower is the third largest oil seed source globally, a significant amount of sunflower cake is produced annually. According to 2017 data, 19m metric tons of sunflower cake was produced as a side stream from the oil extraction process.” Much of this is currently used for animal feed as it’s viewed as a waste product. This EIT-Food funded “Taste2Meat” research project will investigate how to upcycle the sunflower cake as an ingredient to produce tasty and sustainable alternative meat products. Imagine the gain in the global food supply if much of this 19m tons becomes human food!
Partners in the project include DSM, DIL German Institute of Food Technologies, University of Helsinki, and ABP Beef. The inclusion of ABP Beef is another example of meat companies becoming protein companies.
Animal Agriculture’s future problems
An example of the problem animal agriculture producers face from such research is illustrated by a story from a colleague of mine developing human edible products from brewers spent grain. At a meeting some cattle producers were present and they were appalled that he would “steal” their free feedstock!
Animal agriculture will have to get used to their waste stream feedstock sources slowly drying up. Over the next decade or so more and more upcycling of “human inedible waste” products will happen. Eventually the industry will have to face the full cost impact of feedstock, which will raise meat prices, while alternative protein products continue to get cheaper.