Valio is investing in eniferBio, a company with the technology to convert agricultural, forestry and food industry side streams into PEKILO mycoprotein, a high-protein ingredient, for global food and animal nutrition markets. The funding will enable eniferBio to significantly scale up production of the domestic, sustainably produced PEKILO mycoprotein powder. In addition to Valio, the Dutch Aqua-Sparks, and the Finnish Tesi, Voima Ventures and Nordic Foodtech VC also took part in eniferBio’s Series A round of financing.
Global protein consumption is estimated to double by 2050. The UN predicts the global population to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050, according to the 2015 population projection. As the food demand grows, it also must be produced with half of today’s emissions. That means new alternatives are needed to secure the protein demand in the production of food and animal nutrition.
“Alongside traditional food production, we need new, circular economy-aligned ways to produce food. Food produced through cellular agriculture will play a significant role in future food production. The animal nutrition industry’s need for sustainably produced protein is also growing. eniferBio is the leading expert in its sector and has developed new ways to utilize the food industry’s side streams in the production of protein. We are excited to be more actively involved in the development of new means of food production for the globally growing demand,” says Valio’s Tuomas Salusjärvi, executive vice president, Growth Business and R&D.
PEKILO, a Finnish innovation and the world’s first mycoprotein product, was originally developed back in the 1970s. Just like conventional animal-based proteins and soy or pea proteins, PEKILO is also very suitable for human consumption. The high nutritional value fungus, that is mycoprotein powder, can be used as a feed- and food-grade ingredient in many products.
Mycoprotein can be produced efficiently from agricultural and forestry side streams and food industry by-products. It contains up to 70% protein, 20–30% fiber, 10% unsaturated fats and minerals, and is rich in vitamin B. The production process is efficient and uses very little energy, water and land area, and it doesn’t eutrophicate water bodies.
“We are grateful to Valio and other investors for their support in commercializing the alternative protein. They bring a huge amount of information, understanding and industry contacts,” says eniferBio’s chief executive officer and co-founder Simo Ellilä.
Valio has been involved in studying cellular agriculture opportunities since 2021 and started collaborating with eniferBio on research related to PEKILO protein in 2022.
In the first phase, eniferBio has developed the PEKILO mycoprotein powder for use in the food industry and animal nutrition. The next phase together is to develop products using PEKILO protein.
“We have a product that turns today's waste into a high-value ingredient. We can provide the world’s most competitive protein production process and a product that has been tested on an industrial scale for over 15 years. We are now ready for the next phase of scaling our production and product use cases,” Ellilä concludes.