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$15M Alternative Chicken, Fish Challenge Finalists Named

Uncooked chicken breast

(Siwon Lee, Pixabay.

10 May 2023. An international challenge competition seeking sustainable but realistic alternatives to natural chicken and fish protein named its six finalist teams. The Feed the Next Billion challenge, presented by the XPrize competition organization in Los Angeles that promotes development of innovative solutions addressing global problems, has a total purse of $15 million.

The Feed the Next Billion challenge asks participants to propose and demonstrate chicken breast and fish filet alternatives with at least comparable nutrition, taste, and texture of the natural meat product, but also with environmental and animal-friendly processes. XPrize says new food technologies are needed to meet demands of a growing world population, estimated at 9.7 billion in 2050, as well as concerns for a climate in crisis. Growing global incomes also increase demands for meat, which under conventional production methods encourage conversion of forests to farms and pastures, strain water supplies, deplete fish stocks, and promote inhumane treatment of animals.

“Today 9 million people die from hunger every year and 25 percent of humanity isn’t receiving adequate nutrients,” says XPrize board chair Peter Diamandis in an organization statement. “Breakthroughs in food technology will allow us to feed a growing world of 8+ billion people with cheaper, better tasting, and higher quality protein.”

Xprize conducts the Feed the Next Billion challenge, co-sponsored by Aspire, the management group for Advanced Technology Research Council based in Abu Dhabi that funds research and holds technology competitions, and the Tony Robbins Foundation, a charitable organization helping provide millions of meals around the world. Participant teams are asked to demonstrate a process for consistently producing 4 ounces or 115 grams of alternative chicken breast or fish filet with comparable structure, ease of cooking, nutrition, and sensory properties — e.g., aroma and taste — but also a smaller environmental footprint than conventional methods.

Plant-, cell-, or fermentation-based solutions

Since the start of the competition, XPrize received initial proposals in June 2021, with assessment panels winnowing entries from participant teams to 25 international semifinalists, proposing plant-, cell-, or fermentation-based solutions. The semifinalists were asked to develop and demonstrate their products with, according to XPrize, experts from biotechnology, agricultural engineering, and sustainability judging the outputs and processes. Science & Enterprise reported on the start of the competition in Dec. 2020.

The six finalists, dividing $2.5 million in prize money, are:

CellX, cell-based chicken alternative, in Shanghai, China

Eternal, chicken alternative from fermentation, in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The PlantEat, plant-based chicken alternative, in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

ProFillet, biomass-fermentation fish alternative, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Revo Foods, plant-based fish alternative in Vienna, Austria

TFTAK, plant-based fish alternative in Tallinn, Estonia

“Our finalist teams,” notes Feed the Next Billion program director Caroline Kolta, “are demonstrating that we can create structured, versatile alternative meat products with a smaller environmental footprint than their conventional counterparts without sacrificing taste or nutrition.”

The finalist teams are now asked to refine their processes and products, with one more round of demonstrations and awarding of the grand prize scheduled for the first quarter of 2024. A bonus prize is also offered for developing an animal-free growth media at the lowest production cost.

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