FINLAND – The alternative meat protein industry is bursting with novel and at times unimaginable ideas on how to create food products that mimic the taste and feel of animal protein without input from actual animals.

Alternative proteins from plants and those cultured in the lab have been a mainstay in the alternative protein industry and are no longer surprising.

According to the SPINS data, plant-based food retail sales jumped 27% in 2020 to record sales worth US$7 billion, a testament their popularity among consumers.

Finnish food tech company Solar Foods is however taking the entire process around making alternative protein to a new level, devising technologies to make its meat known as Solein from air and electricity.

According to Solar Foods, Solein is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. It is both light in taste and appearance.

The protein vanishes into daily meals while at the same time maintaining its rich nutritional value and offering a unified solution that caters to virtually every imaginable meal of today and tomorrow.

The company recently received €10 million (US$11.9 million) in funding from The Finnish Climate Fund to accelerate the commercialization of its novel protein.

The novel product is also good for the environment as it does not require irrigation systems, pesticides or fertilization any more than it requires animals.

As a protein source, Solein’s comparative greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 1 percent of meat protein and about 20 percent of plant protein production.

To date, Solar Foods has developed more than 20 food products using the Solein protein.

The company recently received €10 million (US$11.9 million) in funding from The Finnish Climate Fund to accelerate commercialization of its novel protein.

The loan will be used to build the demonstrator facility, including the Solein Experience Hub and a future-food bar.  Production at the facility is scheduled to begin operations in early 2023.

CEO Dr. Pasi Vainikka reveals that in addition to the funds from the The Finnish Climate Fund, the company has been able to raise approximately €30 million in the last seven months.

Cumulatively, a total of €35 million has been invested in the program which is now in the commercialization stage, with industrial-scale production of the alternative protein about to get underway.

 “We are happy that we can soon put the Solein protein on the plates of consumers. Our first production facility will be located in Finland, and it will be the world’s first commercial facility to produce food by using carbon dioxide and electricity as its raw materials,” Dr. Vainikka notes.

The Solein innovation is rooted in the combined research efforts of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and LUT University in Finland.

Once fully developed, Solar Foods’ technology could eventually enable food to be produced even in extreme conditions in the future: in deserts, in the Arctic, and possibly even in space.

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