Hyfé Foods’ low-carb flour made with sugar wastewater attracts funding from investors and US government

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long

Hyfé Foods, a female-founded Chicago-based foodtech start-up which uses upcycled wastewater to produce flour, has raised $2 million (£1.5M) in its latest funding campaign.

Money from the oversubscribed round will be used, alongside a grant from the US Department of Energy, to accelerate the start-up’s commercialisation.

Hyfé’s technology utilises wasted sugar water, a byproduct of the food and drinks manufacturing industry, to produce mycelium flour. The carbon-neutral method uses the wastewater as feedstock for fermentation.

The start-up explains: “[The] use of upcycled water feedstocks not only reduces the water intensity of fermentation but also diverts these feedstocks from wastewater treatment facilities, which generate significant amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas with a 20-year global warming potential 84-86 times that of carbon dioxide.”

According to Hyfé, its technology is versatile and environmentally conscious enough to offer a solution to current supply chain issues being faced around the world.

Because sugar wastewater is so abundant, localised production of the flour can be carried out to combat food shortages. Additionally, it envisages the technology could be particularly useful for communities which live in parts of the world with sub-par agricultural environments.

“In the face of supply chain and climate uncertainty, regionalised production of healthy food is vital to a circular economy and more importantly, ensuring global food security,” said Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner at The Engine, which led the funding round. “Hyfé stands out because it operates at the intersection of climate and health and uniquely delivers a cost-effective solution.”

The flour can be used in a variety of products like pasta, but offers significantly more health benefits than processed white flour, the company says.

Mycelium flour is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It is also allergen free. “A bowl of Hyfé pasta has as much protein as a chicken breast, is high in fibre and has no refined carbs. We’re on a mission to make food better for you as well as better for the planet,” said Co-Founder and CEO of Hyfé Michelle Ruiz.

“Hyfé’s mycelium flour tastes and acts just like wheat flour, enabling people to eat the foods they love without negative health impacts. We are leveraging biotechnology to produce this ingredient that is carbon neutral, at scale, and at a very low cost.”

Wastewater is an increasingly attractive resource for foodtech start-ups, likely because it is the byproduct of so many manufacturing processes.

Singapore-based foodtech company SinFooTech, for example, is using wastewater from tofu production to produce a sake-like wine.

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