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14 March 2024

Plantaste – students creating the food of the future

A dedicated group of students, a pinch of innovation and some wild experiments in the kitchen led to an unusually successful test product. It has now transformed into the company Plantaste, which is working to create the food of the future from hemp seeds.  

Maria Lindahl and Evelina Holmgren are in their final semester of the Gastronomy programme at Kristianstad University. In the spring semester of 2023, they took a course in product development that began with Imagine, an innovation-enhancing workshop organised by the university with the support of Krinova.  

“We were assigned a project with the City of Helsingborg and Mossagården where they were interested in introducing hemp into school meals in some way,” says Evelina Holmgren. 

The group and the clients started brainstorming ideas and soon decided to try making a form of tofu. Tofu is usually made from soya beans, which have a nutritional content similar to hemp seeds in terms of fat and protein. They were therefore curious whether it would be possible to use the seeds in the same way as the beans.  

When they went into the kitchen and experimented, they found that it worked perfectly. 

“It was love at first sight when we made the first block,” says Maria Lindahl. “The flavour wasn’t quite there, but the texture and appearance were so good!”  

Creating a product in the kitchen was just one aspect of the course. They also went through all aspects of product development, from concept development and potential customers to finances and market research. 

At the end of the course, their teacher told the group about Krinova, and Plantaste got a place in Krinova START. That teacher was Johanna Gerberich, and in September this year she changed jobs and became a business designer at Krinova. This means that she has been able to watch Plantaste grow from a student project to a new company.  

“This is an example of how we can use the power of a school assignment and show that what they do during their education is relevant,” says Johanna Gerberich. “Turning their ideas into reality is one of my biggest motivators.”  

The work Plantaste has done within Krinova START was to some extent similar to what they did during the course.  

“It was a bit like starting over and going through all the phases of product development again, but with more knowledge this time,” says Maria Lindahl.  

“You can now understand why it takes three years to create a product,” adds Evelina Holmgren. 

The group has also had the opportunity to present their product to Axfood, find contacts and find out where they can apply for funding to develop the product. 

“The support we’ve received has been invaluable,” says Maria Lindahl. “We wouldn’t have even known where to start otherwise. They’ve guided us, encouraged us, and sometimes pushed us. We are learning all the tools we need and we will carry that knowledge with us in the future.” 

This is the first time any of them have done anything like this, and along the way they have found both the confidence to develop their ideas and a desire to create more new innovations.  

“It’s easy to assume that people won’t want to hear your ideas,” says Evelina Holmgren. “I’m so surprised that people around me are so supportive and think it’s cool when someone is brave enough to do things.” 

When asked if they have other ideas they are thinking about, Maria Lindahl nods eagerly: 

“I think I always have been full of ideas. That’s probably why I think it’s so much fun to finally do something with one of them!”