Unlocking the Future of Sustainable Proteins

Jun 06 2024

TFTAK is an Estonian research and development (R&D) company that focuses on developing innovative solutions for the food and biotech industry. It produces plant-based yogurt, beef, and other vegan food products that are guided by food synthetic biology: a process that improves food products by altering their genetic sequence. This is a versatile method of developing alternative proteins for everyday consumption or plant-based diets and enabled TFTAK to create a pea-based salmon filet for entry into XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion. 

TFTAK salmon filet with greens on white plate on table with green sauce being poured over top.

TFTAK uses Nordic crops including oats, peas, and fava beans to produce advanced food prototypes that help reduce reliance on unsustainable or allergenic sources, such as soy and gluten. The team used various research methods to develop its salmon filet, including extrusion, fermentation, and sensory methodologies. Doing so allows the team to measure, analyze, and interpret how a specific product is perceived through the senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound to make it more enjoyable to eat overall. 

Sirli Rosenvald, TFTAK’s R&D Director of Food Science, says the team’s concern for the future of the planet sparked their journey in XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion. Current food systems are negatively affecting the climate through environment degradation and species extinction, necessitating the development of alternative protein tech to sustain our growing world. TFTAK has harnessed its research in extrusion and fermented proteins—both precision fermentation (for specific ingredients) and biomass fermentation (for rapid protein development)—to explore new avenues of food cultivation that do not negatively impact our planet and the species we share it with. 

TFTAK team wearing white lab coats.

The team believes that to create a sustainable future, it is important to have alternative sources of protein that are readily available to offset conventionally sourced proteins, such as plant-based fish and meat products. Success begins with proper crop selection to ensure the best ingredients possible, which in turn can be used to create delicious and nutritious products. Bridging this gap will be difficult, but TFTAK is eager to address the industry’s hardest challenges and stand at the forefront of food innovation. 

To learn more about TFTAK as they head to finals, follow along at xprize.org/feed.