The new plant, located in Falkenberg, Sweden, will produce Mycorena’s mycoprotein-based ingredient, Promyc, for the meat alternative market.
In the factory’s first phase, operational capacity will be set at 5,000 tonnes per year with a focus on alt mince-based products. Mycorena has secured additional land for potential site expansion of up to 25-50,000 tonnes in the medium-term, and eventually up to 100,000 tonnes in three to four years’ time.
“With a 100,000 tonne capacity, we’d be able to cater to the Scandinavian market, as well as part of the European market,” Mycorena founder and CEO Ram Nair told FoodNavigator.
The commissioning side of the plant is expected to open in Q2 2023, with full operations up-and-running the following quarter.
Tetra Pak tie-up
Tetra Pak is best known for its packaging and food processing technologies. Its partnership with Mycorena – facilitating a ‘one-stop-shop’ set-up for Mycorena’s upstream and fermentation equipment – aligns with its long-term vision.
“This is part of the company’s long-term view to address the challenges around food safety and security, through the exploration and advancement of innovative food sources,” a Tetra Pak spokesperson told this publication.
More than half of all global agri-food greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to animal farming. Against this backdrop, alternative proteins open up opportunities for new forms of sustainable food.
Along with the potential for a lower carbon footprint, there is also scope for significantly reduced land and water use compared to traditional protein sources.
Tetra Pak is using its ‘deep understanding’ of food production to support food and beverage manufacturers on their journeys, we were told, using one of the oldest processes in food production – fermentation – combined with some of the ‘newest’ and ‘most advanced’ technologies.
“While this may be Tetra Pak’s first greenfield plant within the new food fermentation category, it has been investing in the development of this technology – including biomass to precision fermentation,” the spokesperson continued.
From Mycorena’s perspective, Tetra Pak is the ‘ideal’ partner. “Not only because of their cutting-edge expertise in processing, but we also have a shared ambition to develop a more sustainable food chain,” explained Nair.
A ‘unique’ fungi strain
The global mycoprotein market was estimated to be worth $552m in 2020. Research and Markets predicts it to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% to reach $803m by 2027.
The predominant fungi strain used to produce mycoprotein is known as Fusarium venenatum. This is the strain that Marlow Foods-owned Quorn uses, for example.
Mycorena, however, makes its mycoprotein from a ‘unique’ undisclosed strain. Nair expects the stain’s identity will soon be revealed, as the company’s patents should be nearing publication.
“We use a completely different fungi, which is not a novel food,” the CEO told this publication. “That is our advantage: that we have a completely different starting point.”
“The benefit of this strain is that the fungal biomass is better quality…especially nutrition-wise. We have a higher protein content…as well as a better texture in applications.”
Nair suggested manufacturers are increasingly seeking ‘harder’ – as opposed to ‘mushy’ – texture for vegan food production, which Promyc can deliver.
Other advantages lie in Mycorena’s fermentation process – founded on custom-built bioreactors – and the company’s ‘unique’ approach to downstream processing. “We can use our ingredient for whole-cuts, for flakes, and mince.”
Mycorena is undoubtedly in a period of growth.
The company launched Promyc in 2019, and two years later, established its demonstration plant. The Mycorena Innovation and Development Center (MIND) is the ‘largest facility of its kind’ in Europe.
“Thanks to our recent rapid growth and the expansion of the Mycorena Innovation and Development Center, we have been able to scale at a pace that we never thought possible,” said Nair.
In March this year, the company closed the largest-ever Nordic Series A funding round in the alternative protein space, securing €24m for the commercialisation of Promyc.
“In one go, we have raised more capital than through all previous financing rounds combined, and our total funding has more than tripled,” commented CFO Anton Johansson.
CEO Nair continued: “Funds raised from the current Series A round will be instrumental in elevating our trajectory even further. It allows us to invest heavily in both innovation and growth…”