Confessions of a Food Activist

August 5, 2019



 I must confess it is not my usual practice to slink around the meat aisles in supermarkets! However, this has changed since my interest in food innovation, especially as I endeavour to learn more about  plant-based meat appearing in mainstream supermarkets, strategically-placed alongside the normal packaged meat. Sadly, most of the meat in supermarkets comes from industrial (factory farms). In Australia where I live, meat consumption has been steadily-increasing over the last 20 years (we are biggest consumer of meat in the world),  with consumption of chicken and pork being the most favoured.

How influential, then, is the appearance of Sunfed Chicken Free Chicken on supermarket shelves, alongside conventional meat. (statistics have shown there is far greater cross-over when such products are placed next to meat.) Simply but stylishly packaged and specifically targeting meat-eaters who love the taste of chicken, this new product ticks many boxes: Clean, lean, plant-based protein, emulating the taste of chicken, easy to cook, good dollar value and containing just a few ingredients we can all recognise. (No funny numbers here!) It is made by our neighbours 'across the ditch' as we Australians say, in New Zealand. New Zealanders can't get enough of this chicken-free chicken.

The choice of pea protein as the major protein source, is an interesting one. Yellow peas were chosen because of the high yield in protein from this food  and  a crop that needs little fertiliser and minimal water,  a 'regenerative crop' and one that is drought-resistant.

Shama Sukul Lee of Sunfed, its creator and CEO,  a software-programmer turned entrepreneur admits they are trying to offer a solution to mainstream consumers, who also want a clean source of protein. Since hitting the market in New Zealand in 2017, Sunfed Chicken Free Chicken has consistently sold out.

Another exciting element to this new product is it is highly scalable, and has the potential to help feed the world in a way that doesn't harm a planet already pushed to the margins.

 The  potential to create new supply chains is  exciting and I hope Australia will increasingly be part of this.  Sounds quite the opposite, but makes sense:  Create demand and the supply chain will follow.  We are already a great producer of pulses in this country,  with a diverse landscape growing these nitrogen fixing gems throughout the southern and northern regions in the Australian grainbelt.  What will be next here?  Can we emulate this product or contribute to its further development /expansion with our Sweet White Lupins, for example, already supply 30-40% of the annual Australian pulse crop - or will there be other possibilities? 

The bottom line is there are great innovators and entrepreneurs out there who really care and want to make high-impact change and do so in a way that energises and empowers everyone.  Congratulations Sunfed Chicken Free Chicken and Shama Sukul Lee!









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