Solar Foods create world first sustainable Solein gelato

Food tech company Solar Foods has made history with Solein, a sustainable protein product made from air, by debuting it at Singaporean restaurant

Finnish food tech company, Solar Foods, is making food history with Singapore’s newest restaurant Fico, by selling Solein Chocolate Gelato which contains one of the most sustainable protein products. It is the first time that members of the public are able to try this product.

Solein has been described as a “game-changing protein” for the global food industry. It is produced from air composed of CO2, water, nitrogen and electricity, and its unique natural single-cell proteins are not dependent on agriculture, weather or the climate. The producer, Solar Foods, has described it as the future of sustainable food with its unlimited diversity of proteins.

Bioprocess being used to create food

This is a significant moment for the food industry, not least because it is the first time in the world that members of the public can try a product that has been made from gases.

Solein blends into familiar foods, either savoury or sweet, and is intended to create food rich in protein that has been made in a sustainable way. It is produced using a bioprocess where microbes are fed gases, such as molecules in the air, and a small amount of nutrients. It does not rely on agriculture, weather or climate and, according to Solar Foods, has the potential to be made in a variety of weather conditions like deserts, arctic areas or space.

The product is described as a protein-rich powder that contains essential amino acids and can replace proteins, first receiving regulatory approval to be sold in Singapore in September 2022. It was made available for customers at the restaurant on 15th June 2023.

“It is a remarkable opportunity to be the first chef team to introduce a one-of-a-kind ice cream to the world,” said Chef Mirko Febbrile at Fico Restaurant.

“It combines the familiar delicious taste we all love with a unique ingredient produced without relying on traditional agriculture. Exploring Solein’s versatility has been an incredible journey; we’ve experimented with its potential, creating dishes ranging from miso soups, pasta, sauces, and desserts. Replacing dairy with Solein in this chocolate gelato, we were able to craft a vegan ice cream without compromising on its creaminess.

“As a chef, I believe strongly in making food sustainable and responsible. Solein opens up opportunities for us to reimagine the food chain in a way that benefits our planet, without compromising the dishes and flavours we love.”

‘The future can taste like anything’

This is one of the first times that a food product has been produced without photosynthesis and agriculture that has been made available to the general public. The gelato made at Fico replaces dairy with Solein, bypassing the need for an animal product. 

This product could offer a glimpse of how food could be produced in the future, as the versatility and functionality of Solein could offer a new way to make food that is more sustainable. 

“If you didn’t know, you could not guess this gelato includes an entirely new, unique, and nutritious ingredient just by tasting it. It looks, feels and tastes just like any other Italian gelato – and that is exactly the idea. Solein is the ‘Intel inside’ of the food industry”, said Solar Foods CCO Shilei Zhang.

“Solein Chocolate Gelato also fits a perfect fit for this market. Ice cream is highly popular in Singapore: it’s common to see people queuing at ice cream kiosks for a cool treat on a hot Singapore evening. Chocolate is also one of the most popular flavours in ice cream across the world, so it is easy to adapt to local tastes.”

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