EniferBio intends to produce protein on a commercial scale for the fish feed industry, using micro-fungi that digest plant raw materials such as wood pulp or by-products from the production of sugar beet ethanol. Photo: EniferBio.

Fish-feed-from-forests production ‘within 5 years’

A Finnish company that produces a single-cell protein tested by feed producer Skretting for use in salmon diets has outlined its ambitions to commercialise production. EniferBio believes its mycoprotein can be a real challenger to soy protein concentrate and fishmeal as a feed ingredient.

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The biotechnology start-up company has brushed the dust off an old method that uses the micro-fungus Paecilomyces variotii, branded as Pekilo, to produce protein.

Among other things, wood from the Finnish forests is used as food for the fungus.

EniferBio chief executive Simo Ellilä says Pekilo is a competitive alternative for soy protein concentrate. Photo: EniferBio.


“Pekilo mycoprotein is a locally produced product that is both a cost-effective and competitive alternative for soy protein concentrate for use in aquaculture feed,” said chief executive Simo Ellilä, one of five entrepreneurs who founded the company back in 2017.

The history of Pekilo mycoprotein stretches back to the 1970s, when it was first developed in Finland for use in feed for pigs and poultry.

The first Pekilo plant was completed in 1974 and produced 10,000 tonnes of ingredients annually for pig and poultry feed on the Finnish market. Another plant was built in 1985, but Pekilo production was discontinued in 1991, when the cellulose industry’s more modern plant no longer produced suitable volumes of by-products.

300 kilos of Pekilo protein is going to feed producer Skretting for growth trials with salmon and trout. Photo: EniferBio.

Industrial quantities

Pekilo production has been given a new lease of life through the Finnish start-up company, and the company is thinking big.

“Our ambition is to get this product into the aquaculture industry in industrial quantities,” said Ellilä, who pointed out that they have recently delivered a special order to Norway-based Skretting.

“Skretting has previously performed a digestibility test on salmon, which showed that the protein digestibility coefficient of Pekilo mycoprotein was comparable to fishmeal. We have just produced a new 300-kilo batch using by-products from sugar beet ethanol as a raw material, and Skretting will use this batch in a larger growth experiment for salmon and rainbow trout.”

65% crude protein

The mycoprotein that the company has developed is intended for feed for fish species that need at least 40% protein in the feed, such as salmon and sea bass, but can also be used in shrimp feed.

“The product contains 65% crude protein and has a balanced amino acid profile that is equal to or better than soy. In addition, it contains up to 20% β-glucan (an immunostimulant - editor), minerals (6%) and fat (1%),” said Ellilä.

Soy protein production, he said, requires 60,000 times more land than Pekilo protein production.

“Our product can be produced locally using local, low-value sidestreams, and in this way mycoprotein can increase Europe’s protein independence,” added Ellilä, who said EniferBio aims to build its first commercial plant within five years. The company is currently preparing a Series A funding round.