A strategic collaboration between Finnish food manufacturer Fazer and start-up Solar Foods could see the former be the first to bring Solein to market.
Solein was developed by Solar Foods with the aim of disconnecting food production from agriculture. The complete protein is made using a proprietary organism, carbon dioxide, water, and renewable electricity.
According to the start-up, the protein is both ‘cost-competitive’ and 10 to 100 times more climate-friendly than plant and animal proteins respectively. The ingredient uses ‘a fraction’ of the water used in agricultural production, and is manufactured without reliance on pesticides or agricultural land.
“In practice, Fazer will do research on the ingredient and its applicability into different food application,” explained head of Fazer Lab Päivi Juolahti. “The partnership enables Fazer to be the first to commercialise products containing the ingredient Solein.”
Fazer sees Solein as an alternative to plant-based ingredients such as fava bean or pea protein. “Potential commercial products including Solein are foods [for which] protein fortification improves the product’s nutritional values, e.g., plant-based meals, snack bars and drinks. However, there is no decision on what the products are where Fazer will use the ingredient,” Juolahti told FoodNavigator.
Solar Foods’ CEO and co-founder Pas Vainikka said he hopes to learn from Fazer’s ‘extensive experience’ in offering consumers new food experiences. “Changes in the food system and consumption habits are key to abate climate change, and with the newly entered partnership, Fazer Group wants to promote research on new solutions,” noted the start-up.
€3.5m boost towards commercialisation
The news comes as Fazer Group announces its contribution to Solar Foods’ €3.5m financing round, along with three other Finnish investors: Holdiz Oy Ab, Turret Oy Ab, and Lifeline Ventures. Fazer’s investment is in the form of a convertible bond, explained Juolahti. “Fazer is not a shareholder for the time being.”
From Solar Foods’ perspective, the company said it is excited to go ‘full-steam ahead’ towards the commercialisation of Solein. “The new funding announced today enables us to finish the piloting phase, prepare the required technical pre-engineering for go-to-market, build a team around it, and finalise the novel food dossier for Solein,” noted Solar Foods chairman and co-founder Dr Juha-Pekka Pitkänen. “After all, we are about to introduce completely new food for humankind!”
The start-up aims to close its Series A financing early next year, which it said would enable the ‘go-to-market’ factory investment, including the ‘ramp-up’ and market launch.