UK startup Upp is tackling broccoli waste – and helping the plant-based alt-meat industry out along the way.
Upp has developed an automated harvester to pick up the stems and leaves of broccoli – which would otherwise be left to rot – and use them to produce a plant-based protein.
Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, the harvester is able to collect the centre portion and stems separately.
Then, while the fresh broccoli flowers are headed for food stores, the stems and leaves are shipped to Upp. The company says that using broccoli for protein as an ingredient in plant-based, alt-meat foods, it is less carbon-intensive than the more traditionally used soy or peas.
Although broccoli is known as one of the healthiest foods containing many vitamins and more protein compared to other vegetables, farmers leave around 80 per cent of the entire broccoli harvest in the field, harvesting the florets for food, leaving stems and leaves to waste in the field.
David Whitehood, CEO of Upp, explained his startup is all about making the most of the crops that they already grow.
“In a future market of bioreactor and lab-grown alt-proteins, plant-based foods with good provenance will attract a premium like organic grass-fed beef does today.”
With investment from Elbow Beach Capital, Upp aims to develop and commercialise its technology.
- Recommended reading: Kiwi start-up releases upcycled products to solve food waste.