Finnish dairy company Valio has partnered with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland for a project that will investigate what kinds of food industry raw materials could be produced with cellular agriculture.
The project will aim to develop biotechnologically produced proteins, where an organism such as a fungus is instructed to produce the protein. After being fed with nutrients and sugar, the fungus secretes protein into the growth medium. Other potential applications of the technology could involve producing purified fats or multidimensional cell structures.
While producing cultivated meat and dairy products is very complex, making individual components is much simpler. This technology is already widely used in the dairy industry to produce animal-free versions of enzymes such as rennet.
In recent years, it has also been used to produce dairy proteins like casein for use in vegan cheeses and ice creams. Another application is ingredients for meat alternatives, such as Better Meat Co.’s mycoprotein superfood ingredient Rhiza.
“To meet the increasing food needs of the growing population, all possible food production methods are needed and they must become more sustainable. There are also certain cellular agriculture challenges that we have to solve,” said Harri Kallioinen, Senior Vice President of Research & Development at Valio. “For example, a lot of low-cost and low-carbon energy is needed in order for the large-scale production of proteins in fermentation tanks to be feasible. This is what we are working on with Hanna Tuomisto, Associate Professor of sustainable food systems at University of Helsinki, and her research team.”