Mycelium-based ingredient supplier eyes European expansion after EU authorisation

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Mycelium-based ingredient supplier eyes European expansion after EU authorisation

Related tags mycelium fungi alternative proteins mushrooms

US-based MycoTechnology says it is set to accelerate its growth plans in Europe after the European Commission granted Novel Food status to two of its mycelium-based plant proteins.

Mycelium is the fibrous root structure of mushrooms. MycoTechnology's range of ingredients, called FermentIQ, consist of pea and rice protein fermented by shiitake mushroom mycelia in a process that "deodorises and de-flavours" the protein to improve the sensory, functional, and nutritional attributes.   

FermentIQ received a positive opinion earlier this year by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which said it considered the ingredients to be safe for use in a wide range of food and beverage formats.

The European Commission has now granted Novel Food status to two of the FermentIQ formats.: MLL (milled) and PTP (protein powder).

FermentIQ PTP is claimed to offer improved solubility and mouthfeel in protein beverages, while MLL aims to deliver nutrition, taste and mouthfeel profiles ideal for dairy alternatives.

The company also produces a texturized offering (TXP) which claims to provide a superior springy and juicy texture in meat analogues. This also has EU approval. 

With Novel Food authorisation secured, MycoTechnology said it is set to accelerate its expansion into Europe, the company’s next major growth frontier. It has hired its first European sales representatives, based in Germany and the Netherlands, and has recently announced a partnership with Brenntag for distribution in the region.

The company’s European expansion will be underpinned by its recent Series E fundraise, which generated $85 million to fuel growth and proliferation of its technology.

Welcoming the news, Alan Hahn, MycoTechnology CEO, commented: “Authorisation means we can now offer food and beverage manufacturers access to our cutting-edge plant protein in Europe for the first time. FermentIQ is a transformative, game-changing plant protein with multiple application and nutritional advantages over other plant protein ingredients​. It enables brands to overcome the technical and taste barriers associated with other plant proteins, providing consumers with a compelling reason to switch.”

The addition of sales and distribution capabilities in Europe means that MycoTechnology's product portfolio – comprising FermentIQ plant proteins and ClearIQ flavour clarifiers – is now available globally, with sales networks already in place in North America, Latin America, and Asia.

Hahn added: “Harnessing the power of mushroom mycelia to produce high quality plant protein is perfectly aligned with both consumer expectations and the EU's commitment to sustainability and food security. It’s little surprise, then, that we are already in conversations with leading food industry players in Europe to formulate and commercialize products containing FermentIQ plant protein.”

Mastering mycelium

Last year, Lisa Wetstone, Director, Innovation and Growth Strategy at MycoTechnology explained to FoodNavigator that through mycelium, a fungus secretes an array of enzymes into its environment, which break down biological polymers into absorbable material, as well as leaving behind beneficial metabolites.

She said: “These attributes of mushroom mycelia enable our unique fermentation processing to improve the physical properties of our pea and rice protein blend – including taste, aroma, solubility, and colour​.”​ 

The company claims that MLL and PTP both have a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 1 for individuals aged 3 and older, signifying that their protein content is of the highest nutritional quality.

FermentIQ also offers reduced anti-nutrients and improved digestibility, allowing 99.9% of protein consumed to be digested. A recent study found that MycoTechnology's fermentation process improves protein quality by more than 20% for children aged three and above, adolescents, and adults, based on the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS). As a result, the company claims its FermentIQ protein ingredients offer a nutritional value competitive with animal and soy proteins.

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