At this semester’s Collider Cup, alternative meat startup Planted Poultry cinched the top prize with their groundbreaking innovation: a faux chicken drumstick.
Born out of the Sutardja Center’s Alt.meat Challenge Lab, the team wanted to tackle the fact that most plant-based alternative meats tend to be really dry. Initially, they hypothesized that the dryness is due to only one kind of fat being used to manufacture products, like coconut oil or canola oil. The team decided to create something more complex using agar, which has a double helix structure, to mimic the texture of solid fats in animal meats.
“It was really fun to try something a little harder that hasn’t been done, like a chicken drumstick,” said Jessica Schwabach, one of the team members. “The structure’s not that hard to imitate, but we had to figure out how to use skin and bone to make a cohesive structure.”
Undergraduates Chloe Gerungan, Connor Groppa, Ellie Jang, and Jessica Schwabach and doctoral student Siwen Deng comprised the team, with majors and concentrations ranging from economics to nutritional science.
After joking about making a fake chicken drumstick during an initial brainstorm, the team got to work researching the texture and decided to delve into making something more exciting. Planted Poultry’s first prototype used yuba, or tofu skin, which is sticky and holds everything together. To imitate the bone, the team tried using carrots, but found that when carrots freeze and thaw, the result is mushy and has little integrity.
According to Schwabach, the team hopes to develop an edible bone for their drumstick — perhaps by growing plants into the shape of a bone.
In the future, the team hopes to expand their product to grocery stores and restaurants in the Bay Area. After meeting with judges and spectators at Collider Cup IV, Schwabach said the team received helpful feedback going forward.
“It was a cool opportunity to meet a lot more people than we expected,” Schwabach said. “It was great to see so many people with really crazy ideas.”
The Sutardja Center has been offering the Alt.meat Challenge Lab since 2017, when it was introduced by Ricardo San Martin. The Challenge Lab encourages students to work in teams to develop plant-based alternatives to meat.
Also featured at Collider Cup IV were several groups from various SCET courses, including:
- Betwork (Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship/BMoE)
- SmartQ (Applied Data Science with Venture Applications/Data-X)
- Planted Poultry (Alternative Meats Challenge Lab)
- Perimeter (Collider: Product Lifecycle)
- myPath (Management in Tech Innovation)
- Sync (Collider: Blockchain and Health)
- Serene/MindFit (Intro to Silicon Valley)
- Urban Transportation Platform (Decode Silicon Valley Startup Success)
- Bioprint (Product Design)
- Xperience (Challenge Lab: Robotics and Autonomous Systems Shaping Industry 4.0)
- Bolt (Challenge Lab: Sports Tech)
- Proscene (Technology Entrepreneurship)
- PinPoint (Product Management)
- Emission Coin (Challenge Lab: Disruptive Technologies – Blockchain, AI, Fintech, and ML/AI Driving Social Change)
Congratulations to all Collider Cup IV participants!