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For a world that is safer, cleaner, and fairer
    12 min read

    [S2:Ep #4] Groundbreaking waste-to-protein

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    What if “waste” is turned into delicious protein? Tommaso Di Bartolo, founding partner of Awesm Ventures, along with industry fellows, Elaine Simon, expert and influencer in the food industry in various categories in retail grocery and manufacturing, Navneet Neora, food engineer with a PhD from Indian Institute of & IT, hosts entrepreneur Thiago Rosolem, co-founder and CEO of Sottile Alimentos, a groundbreaking plant-based and waste to protein initiative in Brazil.

    TopFloor: Where handpicked startups present sector-specific innovations to a jury of industry fellows



    In Season 2, recognized world-class Researchers, Scientists, Faculty Members, Senior Executives, Experts, Chefs, Investors and Entrepreneurs from around the globe, engage in strategic exchange of views and share startling intel on viable transformative innovation in Agriculture, Food and Beverage, zooming in the next gen proteins space.

    Topfloor is where inspiring and passionate game changers, visionary entrepreneurs share startlingly impressive intel on food of the future with a panel of experts.


    With Special participation of



    [Industry Fellows] Topfloor: S2:E4 



    Paulo Silveira
    Navneet Deora, PhD
    KeHE Fresh at KeHE Distributors
    Chief Technology Officer / Future of Food / Alternative Protein

    [Startup Entrepreneurs] Topfloor: S2:E4


    George Thorpe
    Cofundador da Sottile Alimentos



    Serial entrepreneur w/ 2 exits, author, advisor, faculty, investor.
    Tommaso Di Bartolo


    Key points:

    • Crickets: a great horizon of opportunities in a growing market worldwide
    • Standing out in the shelves as “clean protein” is the way to go
    • Innovation and automation are key to promote next gen proteins growth



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    Episode's 🔖 Transcription


    Tommaso: Thanks for joining Topfloor. Let me kick off things by welcoming our guests as they came here to present sector specific innovations in the next gen proteins space to a jury of industry fellows. Today we are already in our fourth episode of our second season of Topfloor. We have a great lineup. On one hand entrepreneurs representing great innovation and startups. On the other hand, industry fellows in the next gen proteins space.

    Tommaso: Thiago, are you ready to share the highlights of Sottile Alimentos?


    Thiago: We built a solid partnership with Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation which is a state-owned research corporation affiliated with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. This partnership intended to develop an innovative process to extract protein from cashew bagasse that otherwise would go to waste after the beverage industry got most of the juice out of it. And we started this based on the concept of circular economy. Make a new change. 


    The cashew tree, native to Brazil and now grown extensively in Africa, India and Vietnam, is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the 'cashew fruits'. The fruit is a powerhouse of protein and minerals that include copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. From aiding the production of blood, supporting heart health to weight loss, there are a lot of hidden benefits of it. We find approximately 5g of protein per oz in cashew fruits. Data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics show that, in 2017, Brazil produced about 60,000 tons of cashew, 75% of which correspond to the leftover fiber after the juice and nuts are processed.


    As far as I know, since cashew requires a frost-free tropical climate, planting in the US is limited to extreme south Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. There is no commercial production in the US, though cashews are grown in botanical collections and some home landscapes.


    More specifically about our products, the secret of our New Burger, for example, is the use of ingredients that give it characteristics that are very similar to the products elaborated with beef, as well as the addition of cashew fiber. The launch includes Siriju, a roll that is similar to crab cakes but is elaborated exclusively with plant ingredients.

    The cashew fiber comes from Ceará, BR, where Embrapa Tropical Agro Industry developed studies that have helped us enable its use as an ingredient in our plant-based products. The initial idea, as I mentioned before, was to stop wasting the cashew bagasse generated by the juice industry, which today is still used in animal feed.

    The problem that we are solving is to avoid an amazing source of fiber and protein to go to waste and turn it into nutritious and delicious food that can be consumed not only locally but scaled to markets abroad, given the high volumes of “raw materials” that we have access to and our capability to produce alternative protein products to on a large scale.

    We are open to talk to potential investors as well as partners.

    Tommaso: Thank you, Thiago! Very inspiring. Let’s start with Elaine… What is your question for Thiago?


    Elaine: So, as you sell it in the markets, is it going into what we would call the United States grocery stores or is it being sold right now in the frozen section or refrigerated sections or are you getting it to the consumer (o the frozen section), but all over the world?


    Thiago: Mainly in the frozen or refrigerated sections of stores. As I mentioned before, we not only see opportunities in our local markets, but huge potential to scale our products and operations to markets abroad, given the high volumes of “raw materials” that we have access to and our capability to produce high quality alternative protein products.


    Elaine: And when you came up with the concept. What drove you towards the cashew fiber? What was the element in the cashew fiber that made it so perfect for a match with your other product? What was the reason behind the cashew fiber?


    Thiago: a key element in our value proposition since the beginning… avoiding an amazing source of fiber and protein to go to waste and turn it instead into nutritious and delicious food that can be consumed not only locally but scaled to markets abroad. Moreover, our products add value to the cashew chain and have an additional benefit or the differential because of their healthy appeal, because they are rich in fiber, an important component in human diets.


    Elaine: I think it's really cool. I appreciate the knowledge today. It's a beautiful product. I can't wait to try it.

    Tommaso: How is it the market in Brazil? Are you next to Impossible Burger already, or what's the situation there in Brazil?


    Thiago: There is a growing number of companies entering the Brazilian market with their alternative protein products. Brazil is a huge market for meat and meat analogs. Over 200 million people. We believe that we have a competitive advantage based on the IP acquired through a solid and formal partnership with Embrapa. In addition, our knowledge and connections over the local markets and our board penetration in Brazil is another strong point in our plans to grow our business.


    Elaine: Tell me about your most recent product.


    Thiago: Siriju, a roll that is similar to crab cakes but is elaborated exclusively with plant ingredients, is coming up. We are now in a phase where we are working on the development of products with Embrapa and on how to handle cashew fiber or the ingredients that could improve sensory characteristics like flavor, appearance and texture of the products. We want to bring the cashew fiber-based hamburger to similarity in terms of texture, color and flavor to burgers made of beef.


    Tommaso: I do have another question from a startup perspective, what is your funding situation when did you raise capital and who participated in the round? I just want to get a sense of who within the Brazilian ecosystem is already thinking ahead of time or if maybe you have international players in your equity table...


    Thiago: we are open to talk to investors or potential partners, but so far, up to now, we have funded the entire operation ourselves.


    Tommaso: Impressive and inspiring.

    Tommaso: Will you see Thiago Roselem again?


    Elaine: Oh, yeah. Absolutely curious to follow up.


    Tommaso: Awesome! And with that, we wrap things up with episode 4. Thank you everyone, especially our audience, Thiago, Elaine and our producers, who made this possible.

    And this series is brought you by:

    Awesm Ventures: A VC that unlike others, invests exclusively with and on behalf of corporations in fragmented industries. The Innovation institute focused on helping future-proof corporations in traditional industries. .


    This is a proteinX Series.   


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