Svend Secher Dam Hanne Meldgaard Og Bjørn Petrait Melin

Hybrid burger from Aarhus wins the award for research project of the year

Two researchers from Business Academy Aarhus are behind a hybrid burger which is half meat and half plant-based. The project has won this year's research project for Danish business academies

A burger where the patty consists of half meat and half vegetables.

This might be how to get more Danes to eat more vegetables and at the same time reduce the total CO2 emission. In simple terms, this is what this year's winning research project for business academies in 2022 is all about.

This year's winning project is about legumes in food

The award for the research project of the year for 2022 was presented at the Danish business academies' anniversary on 8 February 2023. The winning project is called ‘Exploring pulses – grain legumes in food’ and was written by Associate Lecturers Svend Secher Dam and Bjørn Petrat-Melin from Business Academy Aarhus.

‘One part of the project is about making it attractive for consumers to choose a greener alternative. If we can get the large group of Danes – who are not vegetarians or vegans – to move just a little, it can make a big difference,’ says Bjørn Petrat-Melin.

Hybrid burgers are like hybrid cars

He adds that there have previously been a number of plant products as an alternative to meat. Some consumers tried it once but never again.

The two lecturers therefore threw themselves into trying to create a patty where half of the meat is replaced with protein from peas and faba beans.

‘We compare it a bit to hybrid cars. Many consumers may not be ready to go straight from a petrol car to one that runs on electricity. They might want to try the hybrid first. It's kind of the same in our project, where we replace half of the meat with legumes,’ says Bjørn.

How long can this type of meat stay fresh?

The project has been developed in collaboration with several companies and students in the Chemical and Biotechnical Science and Chemical and Biotechnical Technology and Food Technology programmes.

Among other things, the students helped to introduce consumers to the hybrid burger at a large food fair.

The students were also involved in the second part of the project, which is about durability. One student is nearing the end of their bachelor's project which investigates when a product with half meat and half protein from legumes becomes rancid.

Bjørn and Svend have also received ideas from colleagues, and it was one of them who suggested investigating what happens to the shelf life and the development of microbiological processes when one-half of the patty is meat and the other half is plant-based.

‘We don't know everything, nor can we do everything, so we really want to hear what our colleagues have to say,’ says Svend Secher Dam.

Universities and companies are involved in the project

Several food companies and universities have also been involved.

As part of the project, Svend and Bjørn have been partners in a large project with Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen and several companies. Here, the goal has been to investigate the different types of faba beans. Among other things, to investigate what the various faba beans are beneficial for. Another part has been about which varieties are good to grow.

‘We don't do basic research at a business academy, so our approach is to make something that can actually be used. We take the slightly nerdy specialist knowledge and try to make it a little less nerdy and more useful, says Svend.

The patty was served from a hot dog stand

How good does this patty taste then? It had its big introduction outside a hot dog stand. Where it was served as a burger, and people were positive.

At a food fair in Herning, just the patty was served alongside a patty with 100 percent meat. They did equally well with consumers.