The feed protein innovator won the 5th edition of the Tesco Agri T-Jam pitching event, which is run in partnership with the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit.
The company was chosen following an in-depth review of all contenders and a judging process that involved the retailer’s agriculture team and its supplier R&D committee.
Natalie Smith, head of agriculture at Tesco, commenting on the prize winner, said: “Chosen unanimously by the judging panel, eniferBio have created a new high protein product to compete in the protein feed market. Given Tesco’s ambitious sustainability commitments around sourcing deforestation and conversion-free soy by 2025, the potential of sustainable soy and soy alternatives are of particular interest to us and our suppliers especially in the pig, poultry, and aquaculture sectors. We look forward to working with eniferBio and understanding how their product can help us to meet our long-term sustainability ambitions.”
The Finnish startup is developing Pekilo protein, a single cell protein (SCP) derived from fungi, with eniferBio beginning life in the startup incubator, Launchpad, run by Finland’s technical research organization, VTT.
A previous winner also of the Nutreco Feed and Food Tech Challenge, eniferBio was awarded the right to run salmon feeding studies with Skretting, and it did so in 2021: “The results of that trial show that digestibility of Pekilo protein is comparable to that of fishmeal, at around 85%,” Heikki Keskitalo, CCO and cofounder of eniferBio, told this publication in March this year.
He flagged then the economic viability of the company’s SCP manufacturing process: “I believe we are the only single cell protein company that can achieve price parity with soy protein concentrate (SPC).”
Leveraging cheap, fermentable side-streams
The Pekilo protein production model is designed to leverage cheap, fermentable side-streams, according to Keskitalo. The company has tested about 40 different, globally sourced, raw materials, overall, within its smaller R&D fermenters. The distillation residues from bioethanol production, whether it is sugarcane, sugar beet or starch based, prove the most effective.
Tereos, which supported eniferBio in its validation work with Skretting, provided raw material for the trial in the form of a by-product from the production of ethanol from beet molasses.