Fazer and Solar Foods launch snack bar made with air protein

30 Jan 2024

Finnish food manufacturer Fazer has teamed up with foodtech startup Solar Foods to launch a limited-edition snack bar in Singapore made using a novel, carbon-fed microbial protein.

Solar Foods manufactures the protein, which it calls Solein®, using microbial organisms from the Finnish soil that are grown in gas fermentation bioreactors. The single-cell organisms feed off a mixture of carbon, which Solar Foods captures from the air using carbon capture technology, as well as hydrogen – made by splitting water with electricity – and vitamins and minerals.

Fazer and Solar Foods launch snack bar made with air protein
© Fazer Group

Fazer’s bar, called Taste the Future, hit shelves in selected Cocoa Tree stores across Singapore city-state on 18 January.

The bar, which is vegan and palm oil-free, includes 70% dark chocolate, hazelnuts, dried strawberries, crunchy oat puffs, and 2% Solein®, which was approved for use in food by the Singapore Food Agency in September 2022.

Although 2% is a small inclusion rate, it gives the snack bar iron, a nutrient usually lacking in plant-based foods, Fazer said.

According to Solar Foods, the snack bar demonstrates the versatility of Solein®, showing that it is not just a protein but, as a source of iron, fibre, and B vitamins, can also be used as a fortifier to create functional foods.

It also has several interesting technical functionalities such as structure-forming properties, the startup added.

Soft launch allows Solar Foods to ‘get a sense of consumer acceptance’

Pasi Vainikka, co-founder and CEO of Solar Foods, said the partnership with Fazer represented “an exciting moment”.

He added: “With this introduction in Singapore, we are getting valuable customer feedback on Solein®'s viability in a new product category and also [getting] a sense of the consumer acceptance of future ingredients. Our shared aim extends beyond this pivotal moment, targeting a wider-scale European launch in 2025-2026 with a whole range of products.”

Speaking to our sister site Fi Global Insights in 2021, Vainikka said that it was difficult to conduct reliable consumer acceptance studies on Solein® because of the ingredient’s truly novel origins, and that the company would only find out if people wanted to eat Solein® when it was already on supermarket shelves.

However, given the ingredient’s nutritional profile, ease-of-use for manufacturers, and neutral taste, Vainikka was confident of its success.

Solar Foods is gearing up to supply further demand. It has already submitted applications for food safety authorisation in markets around the world and its first commercial-scale production facility – dubbed Factory 01 – will open in the first half of 2024, with an annual manufacturing capacity of 160 tonnes.

Currently, Solein® is made at Solar Foods’ pilot factory and the chocolate bars are made by Fazer in Vantaa, Finland.

A nutritious, functional, and sustainable ingredient

Available as a fine, yellow powder, Solein® provides 65 to 70% protein, 5 to 8% fat, 10 to 15% dietary fibres, and 3 to 5% mineral nutrients. The macronutrient composition of Solein® cells is similar to that of dried soy or algae, and it contains all essential amino acids.

According to Solar Foods, Solein® is easy to use because it “vanishes into foods and doesn’t change the taste of familiar, everyday food products”.

Heli Anttila, vice-president of new product development at Fazer Confectionery, said: “Innovating for a more sustainable food system requires a fearless approach; it means pioneering solutions and venturing new unexplored possibilities. Fazer Taste the Future snack bar is the first-ever packed consumer product where Solein® is used.

“At Fazer we are continuously looking for opportunities to innovate for a more sustainable future, which is also why we have invested in Solar Foods, the Finnish startup behind Solein®.”

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