The partnership between the Finnish company eniferBio and Skretting has been strengthened by the signing of an agreement that defines the future steps for testing PEKILO protein in Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. Skretting and eniferBio have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on continued cooperation.
The biotech start-up was the winner of the 2020 Nutreco Feed & Food Tech Challenge, a biannual competition acknowledges the best breakthrough innovations within livestock farming, aquaculture, and alternative food proteins. The first prize included a scientific validation trial.
The first performance tests on PEKILO with Atlantic salmon were already run in 2021 with promising results. In unison with the signing of the agreement, eniferBio has now provided a new batch of PEKILO protein for the next phases of testing its performance as aqua feed with Atlantic salmon, and the first performance testing rounds with rainbow trout.
Mette Lütcherath, Category Manager Novel Ingredients at Nutreco says, “The MoU defines the next steps towards commercialization of PEKILO protein and implementation into Skretting feeds, in line with our sustainability ambitions of including 5 to 10% of novel ingredients into our formulations by 2025.”
“There is a strong intention from both parties to reach large commercial volumes of this low carbon, high protein novel raw material; first in Europe and subsequently in other geographies,” she added.
In the other hand, Joosu Kuivanen, COO and co-founder of eniferBio, said: “Skretting is a leading manufacturer and supplier of aquaculture feeds, so it is significant to get help from a major company like them in getting our innovation out there. We are thrilled that the first round of performance tests was a success, and we can continue the partnership”.
Two years old
Founded in 2020 and headquartered in Espoo, Finland, eniferBio was born from the dream of five fungi-mad scientists, who saw a unique opportunity in turning a long-forgotten innovation into the future source of sustainable food for millions of people.
The development of the PEKILO process was instigated by the pulp and paper industry in Finland in the 1960s, aiming to add value to dilute side streams from sulfite wood pulping.
The R&D program evaluated more than 300 microbes before finally settling on Paecilomyces variotii KCL-24 – a microfungus with exceptionally suitable characteristics. The unwieldy Latin name was abbreviated to PEKILO, and the efforts shifted to developing an integrated production process.
After a decade of R&D, the first fully fledged PEKILO plant was completed in Jämsänkoski in 1974. The annual production of 10 kilotons was sold as pig and poultry feed in the Finnish market, and detailed scientific trials carried out on a wide range of animals.
Together with a second plant built in Mänttä in 1985, the process was in industrial use for more than 15 years, until meeting an untimely end in 1991.
The pulp industry had moved on, with modern plants producing no suitable side streams. The PEKILO fungus was stored at ultralow temperatures at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, hibernating until conditions turned favourable once more.
Enter eniferBio – a modern biotech company with a history. A group of VTT scientists turned entrepreneurs on a mission to re-establish PEKILO production. “In the global battle against climate change, we have been improving the value-add on the mycoprotein. We’ve created the new high-protein PEKILO P65 product to compete in the high-value protein concentrate and isolate markets in animal nutrition. Now we’re also tailoring a specific protein ingredient for use in the booming food space,” they assured.