Champignons League: Newly-formed association assembles pioneers of fermented protein production
21 Nov 2022 --- Leaders of several companies pioneering fungal fermentation for protein innovation have united to form a trade association: The Fungal Protein Association (FPA). Major players include Quorn, ProVeg and Better Meat Co., which are advocating and conducting consumer research into the expanding fungal space.
Sustainable and cost-effective animal-free protein production has proven a massive challenge for the food industry. Still, in recent years, increasing attention has been paid to using fungus and fermentation to solve these various problems.
FPA assembles key players
In forming this coalition, the FPA aims to sell consumers and the broader industry on a fungal future.
With a mix of groups including environmental advocates and plant-based food innovators, the FPA hopes to strongly advocate the benefits of fungal protein production.
The full line-up reads like an A-list within the fungal food space: Quorn, Nature’s Fynd, ENOUGH, The Better Meat Co., The Protein Brewery, Prime Roots, Aqua Cultured Foods, Mush Foods, Mycotechnology, Mycorena, MyForest Foods, Bosque Foods, ProVeg and The Good Food Institute.
A field with potential
Quorn has recently drawn the most attention with its push for fermentation technologies that could convert food waste into viable proteins.
Earlier this year at the Future Food-Tech Summit, Marco Bertacca, CEO at Quorn Foods, said: “Protein from waste – it’s a big idea, and one that has the potential to revolutionize our food system.”
Reacting to data that arable farming produces approximately eight billion metric tons of carbohydrate waste per year, Bertacca stressed that waste could be fermented to produce mycoprotein, achieving the same production as five billion cows. “The numbers are mind-blowing – that’s three times more cows than there are on the planet now,” he said.
The FPA plans to convince consumers and business leaders of the benefits of a fungus-based diet by equally touting the nutritional and sustainable benefits of such a lifestyle, hoping that convincing everyone of the former will help achieve the latter.
The last two years have seen a lot of movement from all of the founding members of the FPA.
Shortly after their founding in 2020, Netherlands-based The Protein Brewery received a US$22.5 million investment into their unique microorganism Fermotein, which is now produced using only 1% of the land, 3% of the carbon dioxide and 5% of the water of the beef industry.
Additionally, Colorado fermentation corporation MycoSolutions has developed a line of ingredients based on mycelia, the complex root systems formed by mushrooms. In April of 2022, MycoTechnology secured an US$85 million series E funding round, equipping them with the means to go global.
In other moves, tech start-up Enough recently cut the ribbon on what they say is the world’s largest mycoprotein facility. Based in Glasgow, Enough received funding from bioindustry accelerator fund Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking to build the factory in the Netherlands.
Enough states the factory, which will produce their Abunda mycoprotein, will produce a cow’s worth of protein every two minutes.
Industry taking notice
Outside of the newly-formed consortium of fungi-forward firms, the wider industry is making similar strides to scale up mushroom solutions. Swiss manufacturing platform Planetary recently announced the first phase of constructing the world’s first integrated precision and mycelium fermentation protein plant.
With the intent to provide commercial-scale biomass production from mycelium, the company hopes to lower the costs of alternative proteins and generate a measurable impact on world food production.
In October, Big Idea Ventures unveiled a US$200,000 pre-seed funding round for alternative proteins, with a particular interest in mycelium. At the time, Hendrik Kaye, co-founder of German Esencia Foods – one of the companies receiving seed funding – effused the potential of mycelium.
“Mycelium is not just a good base, but the holy grail in the alternative protein space,” he told FoodIngredientsFirst at the time. “Across the industry, estimates for when mycelium can be commercialized vary between the end of 2023 and around 2025.”
By James Davies
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