Danish start-up Rootly is on a mission to develop vegan, skinless sausages made from vegetables – all while reducing food waste.
While still in the development phase, the business aims to ‘differentiate itself from competitors’ by offering a ‘pure, honest, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sausage’ full of vegetables, Rootly co-founder Peter Brix told FoodNavigator.
Indeed, the primary ingredient in Rootly’s plant-based sausages is vegetables. When it is time for the sausage alternative to go to market, one criterion will be a vegetable content of at least 50%, we were told.
Upcycling juice pulp
So how is Rootly tackling the food waste problem? “We upcycle pulp from cold pressed organic juice production,” Bæk explained.
In vegetable juice production, the pulp – what is leftover once the juice is extracted – is usually discarded. However, vegetable pulp contains nutrients and fibre.
By upcycling the pulp into a food ingredient, Rootly says it is able to make ‘honest’ and ‘transparent’ products. The unique production method also helps build awareness around sustainability and climate friendly foods, the co-founder added.
The start-up has opted to combine the vegetable pulp with fermented soybeans in response to concern regarding gluten intolerances. “We have listened to the consumers with gluten allergies and use tempeh instead of gluten.”
Achieving a skinless ‘snap’
In conventional sausages, it is the sausage casing – made from either animal intestines or skin in natural production, or artificially made using collagen and cellulose – that provides that infamous ‘snap’ when bitten.
Developing a vegan sausage that ‘snaps’, however, made from at least 50% vegetables and with no casing to speak of, is more challenging. “In Denmark, the snap is a crucial part of eating sausages,” explained Bæk, “therefore it became a factor we wanted to be able to deliver to customers.”
The start-up has teamed up with the Technical University of Denmark’s (DTU) National Food Institute to solve this problem.
The project aims to give Rootly’s vegan sausage a structure to improve its cooking stability and textural properties – the latter referring to the ‘snap feeling’ found in conventional sausages.
According to DTU, researchers have developed a prototype that fulfils Rootly’s ambition of creating skinless, plant-based sausages with ‘optimal textural properties’, allowing the sausage to keep its shape when fried.
The team is now focused on working out how to upscale production while retaining that ‘snap feeling’.
“We see great market potential and consumer demand,” said Bæk. Rootly will go to market when it has achieved the ‘authentic feel of a sausage’ at scale – both in texture and mouthfeel – ‘without imitating meat’.
While still taking the development process ‘one step at a time’, Bæk revealed the start-up hopes to commercialise its vegan sausages in 2021.