The 2021 Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) awards recognised new ways to flavour meat-free products and smarter farming systems which thrive in drought.
The annual ATSE ICM Agrifood Award was received by two applied scientists’ contributions to the agriculture sector:
- Nourish Ingredients chief technical officer Dr Anna El-Tahchy, who is leading efforts to improve the flavour and sustainability of plant-based meat substitute products.
- CSIRO farming systems scientist Dr Lindsay Bell, for world-leading research helping dryland crop and livestock farmers manage climate variability.
Nourish Ingredients, spin-out company from CSIRO (Agriculture and Food), has created animal-free fats for better tasting plant-based meat alternatives that are also healthier and more sustainable than palm and coconut oils.
The key is a special fermentation process.
“The texture is exactly what we need to supplement these proteins without having to overload the products with them. So, there will be less carbohydrates, better taste and it’s actually mimicking animal fats,” El-Tahchy said.
“I feel very proud to be awarded the ICM Agrifood Award and it came at the right time where I have been making that big step from a research organisation into a start-up.”
Meanwhile, the CSIRO’s research focuses on redesigning cropping systems and re-integrating crops and livestock to more efficiently use highly variable rainfall, increasing profitability and reducing losses during droughts.
Bell has been instrumental in developing dual-purpose canola that works both as a crop and a feedstock and designing protocols to help farmers graze their crops, at a time that reduces the risk of grain yield losses.
“Growing up on a farm in western Queensland I have first-hand experience with many of the challenges facing agriculture,” Bell said.
“This has driven me to try to identify practices, technology and markets that help farmers become more viable in the short and long term.”
The ICM Agrifood Awards recognise the vital role of R&D in advancing Australia’s strength as an agricultural powerhouse, ATSE President Professor Hugh Bradlow said.
“These two individuals are substantially improving the food sector in Australia,” Bradlow said.
“The work being conducted by Dr El-Tahchy has the potential to change the way everyone looks at plant-based alternatives – whether they be vegans, vegetarians or lovers of meat and dairy.
“And Dr Bell is helping farmers work smarter to deal with Australia’s variable climate conditions and the increasing severity of droughts,” he said.
For further information on the ATSE ICM Agrifood Awards and to view the full list of the 2021 ATSE Awards winners, visit: atse.org.au/ATSEAwards2021.