Solar Foods hopes wheat flour-like product will hit target in supermarkets within two years
Solar Foods’ protein-heavy substance can be added to dishes and food products as an ingredient. Photograph: Solar Foods
A Finnish company that makes food from electricity, water and air has said it plans to have 50m meals’ worth of its product sold in supermarkets within two years.
Solar Foods is also working with the European Space Agency to supply astronauts on a mission to Mars after devising a method it says creates a protein-heavy product that looks and tastes like wheat flour at a cost of €5 (£4.50. $7.47 Cdn) per kilo.
The Helsinki-based company, assisted by research from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Lappeenranta University of Technology, will apply to the EU for a novel food licence later this year before starting commercial production in 2021.
The powder known as Solein can be given texture through 3D printing, or added to dishes and food products as an ingredient.
It is produced through a process similar to brewing beer. Living microbes are put in liquid and fed with carbon dioxide and hydrogen bubbles, which have been released from water through the application of electricity. The microbes create protein, which is then dried to make the powder.
Dr Pasi Vainikka, the chief executive of the tech startup, said the company had produced a carbon-neutral way to produce a fully natural protein source without wasting land or water. Pre-engineering on a full-scale factory had just started, he added.
“It is a completely new kind of food, a new kind of protein, different to all the food on the market today in how it is produced as it does not need agriculture or aquaculture,” he said. MORE