Finland-based foodtech company Solar Foods has received regulatory approval for the sale of foods containing its animal-free protein Solein in Singapore.
Commercial production and sales of the product, which is made from hydrogen and carbon dioxide, are expected to begin in 2024, the start-up says. The same year will also see operations commence at the company’s first commercial-scale production facility, Factory 01, in Finland.
Solar Foods submitted a novel food dossier on Solein to the Singapore Food Agency’s in September 2021. Singapore is currently the only country to have given regulatory approval, and the news marks a major milestone for the future of the global food supply, says the start-up.
“I’d compare this to the discovery of the potato: we are introducing an entirely new ingredient to the world of food. It’s a watershed moment for how we think of what we eat”, said Solar Foods Chief Executive Officer Pasi Vainikka.
He continued: “This is also a huge day for us as a company. The food revolution we have been working towards for years has taken a major step forward and we are highly excited about the prospect of bringing Solein to the market in Singapore.
“We have tested Solein rigorously in a wide variety of foods over recent years. However, the impact of any food product, no matter how innovative, is truly realised only once it can be put on the plates of consumers.”
According to Solar Foods, Solein is 65-70% protein, 5-8% fat, 10-15% dietary fibres and 3-5% mineral nutrients – a macronutrient composition comparable to that of dried soy or algae. It is also a source of iron and B vitamins.
Producing Solein doesn’t rely on agriculture or the climate, making it a potentially sustainable protein source for the future. “As urbanisation continues across the globe, megacities and metropolitan areas like Singapore will need more sustainable solutions to feed their citizens”, added Vainikka.
“Solein represents an answer to this challenge; a vision where food is grown with minimal resources and without arable land in deserts, Arctic regions, cities, or even outer space. Our pioneering bioprocess is all about making something that was previously impossible now possible”.
Upon launching in Singapore, the company hopes to target its product at food brands looking for nutritious, functional and sustainable protein ingredients.
Solar Foods also wants to expand the launch of the protein to other international markets. It plans to seek Generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) status for Solein in the United States, and has applied for novel food authorisation in the UK and the European Union.
Earlier this year, the European Commission named Solar Foods an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for its use of hydrogen as a resource. It will support it alongside a few other SMEs using a €5.2 billion public funding pot provided by EU member states.