Industrial waste transformed into food. That’s what a startup wants to do. Would you eat something like this?
An Estonian food technology company wants to turn sawdust into food. So ÄIO, founded in 2022, says it has created a way to produce fats and oils from industrial waste.
Food made from industrial waste
“What we have developed is very similar to brewing, where yeast is used to convert the sugars in the barley into alcohol and hops are added for taste,” co-founder Petri-Jaan Lahtvee told Euronews Next.
“We use a different type of yeast that converts sugars from industrial by-streams, but not into ethanol, but into fats and oils. It is essentially a very natural process, like fermentation. Wood, agricultural products such as straw, and even food waste can be turned into ingredients for the food or cosmetics industry. In addition, the process needs no other inputs – except for a ‘bit’ of nitrogen – and is easily scaled up to other locations around the world,” he added.
For example, the reddish-red oil produced by ÄIO’s innovative process is ideal for creating meat alternatives, which often need a splash of color to appeal to consumers over animal-based rivals. The company says its encapsulated oils are a “perfect” plant-based substitute for baked goods.
As well as being “tastier and healthier” than alternatives on the market, a key benefit of their invention is that it “mitigates” the “huge environmental impact” of animal fats and plant-based oils, Lahtvee told Euronews Next.
The production of palm oil – which is used in a multitude of everyday products such as lotions and shampoo – has caused devastating deforestation in Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to the World Wildlife Fund.