Finnish innovation transforms global dining

Food from electricity and air

Image of a solein chocolate gelato. Credit:

Could our future meals originate from electricity and air? This intriguing concept has become a reality thanks to a Finnish startup.

Recently, Solar Foods in Vantaa, near Helsinki, inaugurated its first facility dedicated to producing food from air and solar energy.

The site is set to produce 160 tonnes of food annually, a development that could significantly reduce the environmental footprint of traditional farming.

The promise of solein

The innovative product at the heart of this venture is solein, a protein-rich powder made from single-cell organisms. These are cultivated using renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, which then feed the microbes.

Carbon dioxide is also sourced from the company’s office ventilation system, making the process highly sustainable. Solein is expected to diversify culinary applications, from meat alternatives to dairy products.

In terms of the global food industry, the factory’s output may be small, but one of the company’s main aims right now is to prove that the technology works, which would be a huge leap in transforming food production methods.

Sustainable food production

The small footprint of Solar Foods’ facility contrasts sharply with conventional agriculture’s space requirements.

The environmental benefits of this technology are profound. Traditional agricultural practices, responsible for about a quarter of all global carbon emissions, could see a significant reduction as land previously used for farming could be rewilded, which in turn would trap carbon.

Bridging old and new

Despite potential market challenges, the co-founder and CEO of Solar Foods, Pasi Vainikka, remains optimistic about the integration of solein into the global food market, anticipating approval in the US towards the end of this year and the EU by the end of 2025, including the UK.

He envisions a harmonious coexistence of traditional farming and innovative food technology, presenting it as a century-defining opportunity for the meat industry.

Despite resistance from some politicians in Italy and the US, who assert that lab-grown food is a threat to traditional agriculture, Vainikka advocates the coexistence of new and old.

He assures sceptics that both meat and plant farming can continue to exist with the focus on quality over quantity.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.