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INNOVATIONAWARDS.ORG.NZ 2 9 INNOVATION EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO SUNFED SUNFED MEATS Shama Lee (left). The secret of Sunfed Meats’ ‘meat’ is that it’s not actually meat at all. And it’s not grown in a lab, like those burgers you may have read about. Rather, it’s made from plants. Sunfed Meats’ plant protein-based ‘meat’ contains the same proteins at regular, animal-based meat, while also consuming just 20 percent of the land and water required to raise livestock. So it’s not just less cruel to animals, it’s better for the environment too. Sunfed’s first product is ‘chicken’ made from Canadian yellow peas. The exact process is a closely-guarded trade secret, but one thing that’s not secret is that it has massive potential to disrupt the food industry – at least as chief executive Shama Lee tells it. But if Lee’s assertions that it could change the way we produce our food sounds too good to be true, it shouldn’t. People certainly seem to believe in what Sunfed is doing. Why else would an international conglomerate of New Zealand, UK and US investors have put $1.5 million into the Auckland-based company. Lee also won the prestigious Start Tel Aviv startup competition, giving her an all-expenses-paid trip to the Israeli city for the five-day event to learn from successful entrepreneurs and participate in a bevy of lectures and workshops. Sunfed Meats was also featured at the Agribusiness Investment Showcase this year, and has qualified for a Callaghan Innovation research and development grant. Lee – who co-founded Sunfed in January 2015 with her husband Hayden – says her company is unlike anything else in Aotearoa, with only a few companies overseas doing something even remotely similar. Lee says that a secret of Sunfed’s process is that it’s wet protein, rather than the dry vegetable-based meat of earlier generations that used a large variety of nutritional substitutes, many of which were not natural and instead artificially created. Some of the ingredients in Sunfed’s chickenfrom-peas, for example, include water, sunflower oil, and vegetable powder. The average New Zealander eats 4 kg of lamb, 15 kg of beef, 18 kg of pork, and 38 kg of chicken per year, according to OECD stats – making us among the biggest meateaters per capita in the world. Sunfed doesn’t want to deny us the flavour and texture of meat, it just wants us to get that flavour and texture elsewhere, from plants instead of animals. And with the effects of overfarming well-known and an ever-rising population creating an ever-growing need for food, it’s a noble goal indeed. EVALUATOR'S COMMENTS It's exciting to think that in the not-too-distant future we may have a substitute to animal protein meat products. This will enable a massive advancement in food technology. New Zealand is primed to be a leader in this industry due to its globally respected agricultural industry.