Swedish food-tech company Mycorena has developed the first fungi-based ingredient that mimics animal fats.
The texture and cooking behaviour of Mycorena’s ingredient is closer to those of animal fat than any other plant-based alternative on the market. It contains fat plus protein and fibre from mycelium, a thread-like structure found in fungi species. The fungi component adds a structural integrity missing from other vegan fats such as coconut fat. Although the ingredient is made using propriety technology, fungi food-tech taps into centuries-old practices. Mouldy cheeses and tempeh are two traditional foods that rely on fungi.
The umami hit of animal fat has long eluded vegan cuisine. When heated, animal fats oxidize to release new, complex flavour compounds. By contrast, vegetable-based oils lose the volatile fatty acids and aroma compounds that give a unique flavour profile to animal proteins.
Mycorena is a food technology company founded in 2017 and currently has 28 employees. The company is guided by circular economy principles and is currently working to quantify the environmental impacts of its production process.
In June 2021, Mycorena completed its pre-series A funding round by raising 77 million Swedish Kroner (US$ 9 million). VEOS Group, a Belgian protein supplier, was the primary investor. FBG Invest and Bånt AB, the two largest shareholders of Mycorena, also contributed. Several anonymous entities made up the rest of the funding.
This investment will fund a new production facility in Falkenberg, Sweden. The new facility aims to start operating by 2022. The target is to produce “several thousand tons” of fungi protein a year. Mycorena will also scale up production at their existing pilot facility in Gothenburg.
Mycorena concentrates its sales in the Nordic countries but plans to expand into the EU market where they are already certified to sell. Next, they are eyeing up the US, the UK, and some Asian countries. They are in the process of obtaining international certifications for their products.
Fungi biotechnology is a growing industry whose products have acquired hundreds of patents since the 1990s across multiple industries. On top of being an alternative protein source, fungi also have applications in wastewater treatment and biological pest control.