ESPOO, FINLAND — Mycoprotein producer Enifer announced May 23 it has received €36 million ($39 million USD) in funding, which will allow the company to begin constructing a unique, food-grade mycoprotein facility in Kantvik, Kirkkonummi, Finland. According to Enifer, the facility will be the world’s first commercial plant to convert side stream raw materials from the food industry into a fungi-based protein. 

The funding comes from Enifer’s latest series B funding round, which raised €15 million ($16.3 million USD). The round was led by Taaleri Bioindustry Fund I, a Finnish private equity investment fund, and received participation from existing shareholders Nordic Foodtech VC, Voima Ventures and Valio. 

“We are very happy to start cooperation with Enifer,” said Tero Saarno, managing director at Taaleri Bioindustry. “We believe that there is an increased need for alternative proteins as the global population grows. Demand is also supported globally by environmental and ethical considerations. Taaleri Bioindustry Fund I’s investment enables commercial scale production. We are confident in Enifer’s opportunities to expand.”

Complementing its series B funding round, Enifer received support from the Finnish Climate Fund, which includes a €7 million ($7.6 million USD) loan and a €2 million ($2.2 million USD) Climate and Environmental Loan from Finnvera. Additionally, Enifer received a €12 million ($13 million USD) recycling and reuse grant from Business Finland. 

“The world’s population and the need for protein are growing. Food production is — even at the level of technologies that can already be scaled — an unsolved key part of the climate challenge,” said Toni Mikkonen, acting chief executive officer of the Finnish Climate Fund. “In the future, sustainable food production will be based on several different solutions and the demand for new types of proteins is predicted to grow significantly over the next decade. Enifer’s already tested technology is interesting as the nutrients of various side streams can be upcycled and their processing value increased instead of energy use.”

Enifer’s new facility is expected to cost €33 million ($35.8 million USD). It will produce up to 3,000 tons of the company’s PEKILO® ingredients annually, which is expected to meet the annual protein needs of about 40,000 people. PEKILO is a fungi-based protein that offers versatility for use in aquafeed, pet food and food manufacturing. According to Enifer, the production of this particular ingredient has a low carbon footprint and requires minimal land and water, representing a sustainable alternative to traditional animal- and plant-based proteins. 

The new facility will be a brownfield project within an existing building. The area borders the Baltic Sea and is a 30-minute drive from Helsinki and Enifer’s R&D facilities. According to Enifer, the site already comes fit with all required utilities, as well as steam, electricity, process and cooling water, and wastewater treatment. The company expects the facility to be completed at the end of 2025, with operations beginning in 2026. Once it reaches full capacity, it will produce 500 kgs of mycoprotein per hour, according to Enifer. 

At its center, the factory will include a full-sized industrial fermenter more than 12 meters tall, in which PEKILO ingredients will be grown. The facility will employ about 15 personnel during its regular operations. 

Enifer develops its PEKILO ingredients through a fermentation process that was developed in Finalnd in the 1970s using upcycled side streams from the forest industry. The company has adapted this fermentation process to be similar to that of brewing beer and to use raw material side streams from the food and agricultural industries, developing a more food-grade version. 

PEKILO contains a high content of quality protein and fiber and offers a neutral color and taste, making it a great fit for various food applications like meat and dairy alternatives, baking, pastries, snacks and even animal feed, according to Enifer. The company is planning to file for Novel Foods approval of PEKILO later this year and expects to receive approval in 2026. 

“At Enifer, we’re extremely excited to announce the kick-off of our first factory investment project,” said Simo Ellilä, co-founder and chief executive officer of Enifer. “For over half a century, Kantvik has been at the heart of Finnish bioindustries, and I could not think of a better location to bring PEKILO fermentation back to life. I would like to thank our new investors, in particular Taaleri Bioindustry and the Finnish Climate Fund, for joining us in our mission. 

“Mycoprotein is the missing ingredient for a more sustainable food chain — the facility in Kantvik serves as a key steppingstone on our path to making mycoprotein a cornerstone of protein supply, with several future factories already being planned,” he concluded.

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