Sunfed chicken-free chicken

Kiwi startup ‘Sunfed’ provides harm-free alternative to chicken…

Sunfed foods has a new kiwi-made chicken alternative on the market that has already been so successful, in such a limited time, that the NZ poultry industry has taken the owner (Shama Lee) to the commerce commission.*


Sunfed chicken-free chicken

Sunfed chicken-free chicken

Find out more at their website or facebook page.

Why is this new product so important?

Sunfed is disrupting big business. Did you know that in NZ, around 118 million chickens are killed or ‘processed’ each year for meat? Processed being the word they actually use on the website. That’s 323,287 chickens every single day. 13,470 every hour. 224 every minute. Nearly 4 every second.

Around 120 since you started reading this article.

Aren’t those ridiculous, sobering numbers?

Just for interest’s sake, why don’t we compare them with total kills for other major farming animals in New Zealand

Total kill (last 12 months) by animal type in NZ

  Cows Calves Pigs Adult Sheep Lambs Chicken
Total kill (last 12 months) 934,170 1,656,618 659,984 3,692,025 19,450,300 118,317,000

Source: (infoshare)

I gave up eating meat at the start of 2016 after watching documentaries like Earthlings and Cowspiracy. But even then, I didn’t know the full extent of our kiwi meat addiction until I actually got online and researched the numbers for this post.

Introducing a game-changing solution.

Trying new products is a hobby of mine. The criteria: Anything meat & dairy free, preferably paleo and with limited vegetable oils. This checklist drives my Wife crazy and it means supermarket trips take twice as long as usual since I need to pour over the ingredient-fine print of nearly every packaged purchase.

I guess that’s just how we get our kicks these days.

This refined search criteria led me to:

Sunfed ‘chicken-free chicken’


Water, Pea Protein, Rice Bran Oil, Pea Fibre, Pumpkin, Natural Yeast Extract, Maize Starch.

Generally, with any food purchase, I look for as short an ingredient list as possible. I will avoid anything where the list of inputs sounds like a chemistry set. Sunfed passes the test in this regard!


Sunfed chicken-free chicken Sunfed chicken-free chicken Sunfed chicken-free chicken Sunfed chicken-free chicken

Nailed it. A re-sealable ‘bag’ inside a cardboard box that is just thin enough to fit into any ‘already completely full’ freezer draw. It’s a dream come true. Not only that, the product is already split into meal sized chunks, so you don’t need to sit there trying to break it apart from frozen just to get the amount you desire.


This is probably my favourite aspect of the whole deal. Chuck it in your hot fry pan, straight from the freezer and it’s golden-brown and ready to eat in around 3-4 minutes. I’m all for efficiency and in this area, Sunfed takes the cake.

Sunfed chicken-free chicken

I can’t overstate how much of a game changer this aspect is. One of the biggest knocks on a vegan diet is how organised you have to be and how long meals take to prepare. This product actually saves you time, compared to eating real chicken.

Better still, you can say goodbye to the microwave!

Have you ever defrosted chicken in the microwave and seen it get to that point where half of it is grey and rubbery and the other half is pink or frozen? Meanwhile, that pinky water is sliding all over the plate. Doesn’t that gross you out?

I’m pleased to say that thanks to alternatives like this, more and more people will never have to watch that process ever again.

We’ve tried Sunfed in curries, wraps, salads, pad thai, pasta and it hasn’t disappointed once.


While the videos you see online say ‘you can’t tell the difference’ and ‘it tastes just like chicken’, I’m not so certain. If you are a die-hard meat-eater currently, I don’t want to set your expectations too high.

sunfed chicken-free chicken
Butter ‘chicken-free chicken’ with cauliflower. Sorry – no Jamie Oliver photos here 🙂 #realfoodtalk

Don’t get me wrong, I personally enjoy the taste and prefer it over what I remember chicken to be like. It is nuttier and a little more earthy than actual chicken in my opinion. To me, this is a bonus. If it tasted exactly like real chicken, I would probably be put off or would need to constantly look at the ingredient list to reassure myself of what I was eating.

It tastes just enough like chicken to give your meal that hearty, filling feeling you desire, without being so close in taste that it would weird you out entirely.


This is a big one for me. I don’t want to get too specific here, but previously in life, I haven’t reacted well to ingesting large amounts of protein powder type substances. Be they whey, plant-based, or other. So eating a pea-protein based product concerned me.

After trying Sunfed multiple times over the past few months, I can attest that I haven’t noticed any ill-effects. I imagine it partly helps that because this product is so filling, you don’t actually need to eat that much of it. More on that below…

Value for money $$:

There is often a misconception in food that size = value. Some might look at the cost of Sunfed chicken-free chicken combined with the price and instantly feel like they can’t justify spending that much more on a smaller amount of protein. You might open the Sunfed packet and think, is that it?

Here’s the kicker though: You actually need way less ‘chicken-free chicken’ to feel full. This stuff really packs a punch. Personally, I have a serious appetite. I can keep eating while others are already sitting on the couch, rubbing their belly watching Netflix. The first time I cooked with Sunfed however, I whipped up what I thought was a normal amount and then found myself staring at my plate, unable to finish what was in front of me.

So what does it cost?

Sunfed chicken-free chicken price: $12.99 for a 300g packet ($4.33 per 100g)

Free range chicken price: $21.99 per kg ($2.20 per 100g)

Source: Countdown website, as at 3/12/17.

Sunfed comes in at twice the price of free-range chicken by volume but this doesn’t tell the whole story. This product has double the protein of chicken (and triple the iron of beef) according to the Sunfed website. So essentially you are getting the same amount of protein per dollar spent. Plus, more importantly, no animal needs to be killed to procure your dinner!

Overall Impression:

I was so excited when I heard about this product and it didn’t disappoint. My heartfelt congratulations to Shama Lee and her team on creating something truly special, made right here in little old New Zealand. Let’s hope the big lobbyists back off and let a cool new product reduce the harm in our diets.

*The ‘Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand’ (PIANZ) feels so threatened by this small kiwi startup that it has resorted to complaining that the labelling could be ‘misleading’ for consumers.

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