‘MyShroom’, funded by Business Finland’s Research to Business Programme, started in August 2021 with the aim to bring tasty, ecological, protein-rich fungal food to the growing vegan and meat alternatives market.
With an increasing global need for sustainable food, fungi are becoming an attractive option for consumers seeking nutritious, affordable, ecological, ethical, safe, easy-to-use, protein- and fiber-rich food. In our current practice, only about 5% of edible fungal material is consumed as mushrooms, while the rest remains unused in the form of mycelia, waiting for its potential to be unlocked as a sustainable food source. Through ‘MyShroom’, using liquid fermentation from food industry side-streams to feed and grow edible mushroom mycelia, we are not only creating attractive foods but also returning food waste back to humans to consume in a safe, ecological, and circular way.
We initially conducted the screening of 19 different varieties of edible mushrooms using 4 different food industry side-streams. In parallel, clearance from the University of Helsinki Ethical Review Board was obtained to conduct preliminary sensory evaluations which complemented the screening studies, leading us to choose a suitable mushroom variety and culture media. During the last year, we have optimised production, increasing mycelia yield and reducing growth time. We have been able to grow mycelia with additional fermentation products to obtain exceptional nutritional value with a sensory profile rich in mushroom, umami flavour and texture resembling egg white and meat. We have also developed a mycelia-based cheese analogue and validated the product type with a consumer pool, which developed our understanding about what customers are expecting from alternative food products. We have also managed to engage a great number of potential stakeholders from multiple countries within various branches of food industry such as plant-based food, ready-made food, dairy, bakery, pet food, and fine dining restaurants.
In the upcoming year, we will develop strategies to utilise our existing vertical farming facilities to scale our production from laboratory to pilot and then industrial scale. By having our stakeholders participate in our early phase piloting and product validation testing, we are expecting to establish partnerships with manufacturers and potential customers. With many industry partners showing keen interest towards our products, their feedback based on customer needs will help us to finalise our product/s. We will also conduct product texture development, sensory evaluation, and consumer perception studies. In the alternative food market, mushroom mycelia bring added value to customers in a tastier, healthier manner with clean label benefits.
Ultimately, we want to produce food that is healthy for you as well as the environment and edible mushroom mycelia, which are full of potential, will help us get there.
MyShroom Team: Shuddhodana, Jutta Varis, Minna Isotupa, Marko Saapunki, Pauliina Lankinen, Pekka Varmanen, Mari Sandell, Laila Seppä and Kirsi Mikkonen.
The team is supported by Elena Inguglia and Kajsa Kajander from Helsinki Innovation Services.
Picture from left to right: mycelia, sensory attributes, mycelia cornucopia (drawn by Julia Varis).