Chickens are exceedingly popular, less as companions and more as relatively cheap, plentiful sources of protein. On Super Bowl Sunday alone, Americans ate roughly 1.42 billion chicken wings last year, enough to circle the globe three times. Then there are the billions of nuggets, patties, sausages, and other products, some of which involve the unappetizing process of mechanical separation but none of which are supposed to include bones. A Finnish startup says that’s a waste of perfectly good grub, and it’s developed a way to keep those bones in the food chain, per Modern Farmer, thereby squeezing some 30% more meat-like product from each bird.
SuperGround pressure cooks the bones to a near gelatin-like state and then “pulverizes the mash into a breadcrumb-like consistency” that can be mixed back in with the rest of the chicken. The company says its technology can dramatically cut costs and waste—plus make processed chicken more nutritious with added calcium and collagen—without noticeably affecting the taste and consistency of familiar products. The product is now commercially available, but the company is still looking for buyers. “When you have something that is a bit revolutionary, you really have to show it to people and let them try it," says CEO Santtu Vekkeli, who is inviting food producers to Finland for demos and taste tests.
According to Wired, it could be a tough sell. For starters, there’s an existing market for bones used in pet and livestock feed. Granted, people food is more valuable than dog food, but only if those people agree to eat it. In both the EU and US, products containing bonemeal may need to be labeled similarly to those that involve mechanical separation, a turnoff for many consumers. Nonetheless, cofounder Tuomas Koskinen is confident his company’s bone-in chicken will be in common foods by 2023, saying, “the interest within the meat industry has without any exaggeration exceeded all of our expectations,” especially thanks to inflation and humankind’s ever-expanding appetite for chicken. (Read more chicken stories.)