FINLAND – Enifer, a pioneering biotech startup based in Finland, is shifting its focus to the shrimp industry after garnering promising results with its mycoprotein, Pekilo Aqua, in salmon aquaculture. 

Pekilo, derived from a fungus through a specialized fermentation process, boasts a myriad of applications ranging from pet food to human consumption.

In a landmark trial by Malta-based AquaBioTech Group, Enifer’s mycoprotein showcased significant potential in enhancing the growth and health of whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). 

The eight-week nutrition trial, substituting fishmeal in shrimp diets with varying Pekilo Aqua concentrations, yielded encouraging outcomes. 

Shrimp fed a diet containing 30% Pekilo Aqua and 0% fishmeal exhibited superior growth and survivability rates compared to those with higher fishmeal content. 

Notably, the shrimp in this group recorded a remarkable 10% increase in weight over those on high fishmeal diets.

Heikki Keskitalo, business development manager and co-founder of Enifer expressed enthusiasm about Pekilo Aqua’s potential in aquaculture, citing the successful trials with salmon and shrimp. 

This strategic shift follows Enifer’s ambitious plans to construct its first commercial-scale factory for Pekilo ingredient production. 

The facility, projected to cost €30 million (approximately US$32.45 million), is scheduled for completion by the end of 2025, with a production ramp-up planned for 2026. 

Enifer’s series A funding round in spring 2023, which raised €11 million (US$11.86 million), has facilitated its growth trajectory.

As Enifer gears up for expanded production, Keskitalo emphasizes the company’s commitment to forming strategic partnerships with feed producers to explore Pekilo Aqua’s transformative potential as a sustainable alternative to fishmeal in aquafeed. 

The startup has already established collaborations with industry giants such as Skretting, Purina, and Valio, signaling its dedication to driving innovation across the feed and food sectors.

Founded by a team of scientists, Enifer is dedicated to advancing and commercializing its proprietary Pekilo technology, initially developed in the 1960s for cost-efficient animal feed protein production. 

Leveraging enhanced fermentation processes, Enifer upcycles by-products from agri-, food-, and forest industry processes into mycoprotein, promoting sustainability and resource efficiency.

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