Fermentation

Historic Moment in Food Production: Solar Foods Opens World’s First Commercial-Scale Air Protein Facility

Finnish air protein Solar Foods announces the official launch of its highly anticipated Factory 01 in Vantaa, Finland.

Claimed as the world’s first factory growing food out of thin air, the new plant will commercially produce 160 tons annually of the company’s flagship protein, Solein, paving the way for the next generation of sustainable products. 

Produced leveraging a microorganism, CO2, and electricity and described as a nutritious and versatile protein, Solein has been only released in small batches from the company’s pilot laboratory in Espoo, near Helsinki. 

Solar Foods’ CEO and co-founder, Pasi Vainikka, shares: “We will be able to deliver quantities that allow food producers to create large batches of Solein-powered products for the first time.

“While we have been able to offer consumers a small taste, finding a Solein-based food in your local supermarket has not been possible. Soon it will be.”

Finnish company Solar Foods announces it has commenced operations at its much-awaited Factory 01 in Vantaa, Finland.
© Solar Foods

As the Finnish firm explains, Factory 01’s bioreactor can make the protein equivalent of a 300-cow dairy farm in a day without the environmental impact and demands of traditional agriculture. 

The new facility will also serve as an R&D hub for future product development. Moreover, the data collected from the operations will be important in achieving the next goal, Factory 02. 

“We are exploring the possibilities of this scientific platform on a new scale”

According to Vainikka,  the factory’s significance to food production compares to the impact quantum computing will have on information processing.

“Just like with quantum computers, it’s no longer a question of will cellular agriculture become a thing: it’s evident that it will. The question is more about who leads the charge. We are exploring the possibilities of this scientific platform on a new scale.”

Factory 01 is part of the European Commission’s four-year HYDROCOW project to advance the European hydrogen economy. This project aims to develop an air protein version of beta-lactoglobulin using CO2 and electricity instead of traditional fermentation. 

© Solar Foods

“A billion euro company”

Additionally, to this production milestone, Solar Foods was granted the Nasdaq Green Equity Designation last week, making it the first Finnish private company to receive this recognition. 

Nasdaq Green Equity recognizes companies with over 50% turnover from green activities and less than 5% from fossil fuel activities. It promotes transparency around environmentally conscious business models and supports sustainable investments.

After receiving novel food regulatory approval in Singapore in 2022, Solein launched a restaurant menu, ice cream, and, more recently, a limited edition of a chocolate bar powdered by Solein.  

The company has previously announced that it is seeking novel food approvals in the EU, the UK, and the US, where it aims for a market entry later this year. Last year, the air protein company partnered with the Japanese food giant Ajinomoto to develop and test market Solein-based products in Singapore and beyond. 

Vainikka adds, ” Our long-term aim is to be a billion euro company. The global protein market is a two trillion euro business and we have shown that Solein has a place within that market.”

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