Of course, what really excites meat producers is that for every chicken slaughtered, there is the potential to produce more nuggets. Whether this makes economic sense is another question. “In these animal protein industries, nothing goes to waste. Everything has a home,” said Jason Lusk, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. In the EU, chicken bones are often exported for pet food or livestock feed. In August 2021, the European Union relaxed its previous ban on the use of chicken by-products in animal feed, so chicken bones can now also be added to pig feed. (Feeding chicken by-products to cows or to chickens is still banned.)
Koskinen will have to convince meat makers that it is more profitable to put their chicken bones in human food than to divert them into pet or animal feed. This may not be too difficult, since human food is much more expensive than animal food. Animal feed prices soar, partly due to the war in Ukraine, pushing poultry prices up 31% compared to this time last year. “If more economic value is created by turning bones into food edible for humans, that will come true,” Koskinen said.
Convincing people to eat it is a piece of cake. Fast food brands are unlikely to want to be associated with foods that might keep some people from eating dinner. McDonald’s in 2003 stop nuggets A process called mechanical separation of the meat is used, in which the bones are ground along with the chicken and then extracted through a sieve. In the EU, any meat made through this process must carry such a label. Some countries also have specific regulations for mechanically separating meat, but Koskinen doesn’t think his products would fall into the same category. “Our process softens and grinds the bone at the same time, so the calcium that goes into the final product is mostly dissolved and doesn’t contain any hard particles,” he said. Even if their products have to be labelled similar to mechanically separated meat, this may not be the death knell. “My belief is that consumers don’t pay enough attention to the ingredient lists of the foods they actually eat,” Koskinen said.
What is clear is that demand for cheap chicken is likely to continue to rise.”You can usually see a shift from red meat to chicken at a time when incomes are lower,” said Harry Dee, a poultry analyst at research firm IBISWorld. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also plans to Poultry production will grow by 17% over the next decade – more than any other source of meat. However, how much of that will be driven by chicken nuggets is unclear. Lusk noted that ground chicken products represent a relatively small share of the overall meat market. Stuffing ground chicken with bones might make things more efficient, but it won’t upend the industry’s way of producing meat. It’s also unclear how much of an environmental impact it will have, since most of the chicken bones aren’t wasted in the first place.
However, Koskinen is confident that the first products containing his bone-and-chicken mix will reach consumers in 2023. “The interest in the meat industry has literally exceeded all our expectations,” he said. Currently, SuperGround only produces small batches of chicken — 20 or 40 pounds at a time — but its production facility has the capacity to produce more than 400,000 pounds of chicken annually. Now it just needs to find enough people to eat it.
Update May 30, 2022 8:00AM ET: The IFFA show location has been corrected from Berlin to Frankfurt.