World’s First Hemp-Chicken Pizza From HELL

HELL’s cult classic Death by Chicken Pizza made a comeback in March, but not as fans know it. Locally produced natural hemp-based meat replaced the original buttermilk fried chicken, giving the pizza a new name – Death by FrankenChicken.

Death by FrankenChicken featured a hemp product developed by Sustainable Foods in conjunction with Greenfern Industries and The Riddet Institute. The Institute supported Sustainable Foods to develop the tasty plant-based meat alternative. Death by FrankenChicken was a limited-release and sold out by the end of April.

Ben Cumming, CEO of HELL, says replacing chicken with a hemp-based alternative is part of their ongoing mission to encourage meat-eaters to try new plant-based proteins as they emerge.

“Replacing meat with a plant-based alternative now and then reduces your carbon footprint and helps the planet move towards a more sustainable food industry. The beauty of hemp is that it delivers the same amount of protein as chicken and can satisfy even the most hardcore meat-eaters.

“In blind taste tests before launch, our very discerning HELL staff incorrectly identified the hemp product as fried chicken. This is a glowing endorsement that we’ve found a plant-based protein that tastes like the real deal. Hemp is a hero ingredient in its own right on our menu, making its ethical benefits an added bonus.

The sustainable hemp used for the meat alternative is grown in Taranaki and processed using a private hydroelectric power plant. Vegan, lower in saturated fat, and requiring very low water usage to produce, hemp offers 30g of protein per 100g. Sustainable Foods, founded by Justin Lemmens (CEO) and Kyran Rei, say hemp is also much kinder to Mother Nature.

“Hemp has been scientifically proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any other forest or commercial crop and is, therefore, the ideal carbon sink. One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare, and because it’s possible to grow two crops per year, absorption doubles,” Kyran Rei explains.

“By changing the way we eat, we have a real opportunity to provide a viable economic crop for New Zealand farmers to consider land-use change, away from food sources that require more intensive systems.”

Justin Lemmens says the hemp product on Death by FrankenChicken Pizza is the first foray into the market for plan*t, Sustainable Foods’ New Zealand-made brand. “We’re incredibly proud to have this opportunity with HELL and to be delivering what we hope people will find to be a delicious, sustainable option.”

The Riddet Institute team working on the project included Dr Arup Nag and Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh. The research compliments the larger Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) programme on sustainable proteins, where scientists investigate and assess all proteins available for human diets, as well as examining the new and emerging sources. Professor Singh says the success story for Hell Pizza, Greenfern and Sustainable Foods is particularly interesting as the hemp protein chicken alternative behaved in the same way as chicken in our trials.

“The move by the food industry into alternative proteins is part of a global trend that recognises that our current consumption patterns for animal proteins are not sustainable in the future. Our role is to assess the sources of protein for their health attributes and look at novel way to create natural structures and properties that are more palatable to tomorrows cons

Dr Arup Nag and Chef Sean Kereama (Wharerata) testing the hemp meat alternative in dishes prior to launch

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