Yeast-Based Oil – New Normal in Russian Food Tech 20 September 2022
EFKO unveils Russia's first plant oil produced by microorganisms

Eggs from chickens. Milk from cows. Bread from wheat. Innovations are increasingly creating alternatives even to technologies that seemed unassailable for centuries.

Oil from oil-bearing plants. Russian scientists have proved that even such a traditional industry as oil refining can work in a totally different way from what we are used to.

EFKO Executive Director Sergey Ivanov spoke about the company's latest invention – biosynthesised plant oil. The new product was presented at the INNOFOOD Forum in Sochi.

EFKO Executive Director Sergey Ivanov
‘We decided to produce oils from microorganisms because they completely change the technological paradigm of our industry. These oils do not require fields and plantations, elevators and oil extraction plants. All the technology fits into a fermentation plant. This is the most promising area of development for our business.

‘In two years we have significantly advanced technologically and set ourselves the super task of obtaining a cocoa butter alternative. We are actively working on this with scientists from the Institute of Molecular Biology. Why did we choose cocoa butter as the first product? Because it is the most expensive plant oil. And nothing grows in Russia that can be used to produce it. Therefore, we get import substitution and breakthrough biotechnologies in one project.’

Oils from microorganisms are obtained using precision fermentation technology. To this end, conventional nutritional yeast is modified to produce oils, which are a full natural alternative to plant oils.

Recombinant proteins are produced using the same technology. It is also widely used in the pharmaceutical industry – all insulin today is produced by microorganisms.

Funding for this product began two years ago. During this period 100 million roubles was invested in infrastructure, research and obtaining prototype samples. The plans include producing olive, soya bean and rapeseed oil alternatives using microorganisms.

Oils from microorganisms are the second food-tech project of EFKO shareholders. Two years ago the company unveiled its plant-based Hi! burger – Hi! plant-based meat after investing four billion roubles. Today plant-based meat and milk of this brand are selling in most Russian regions, and the first exports began in the summer of 2022.

Healthy Innovation (Hi!) is a family of ground-breaking technologies and projects united by the philosophy of positive contribution towards a healthy future. Hi! products and technologies improve the quality of people's lives and are environmentally friendly and affordable to the mass consumer. EFKO shareholders are developing two Hi! product lines: Hi-Food (plant-based meat and milk) and Hi-Bio (sweet proteins, biosynthesised oils and cellular nutrition) at the Biruch Innovation Centre in Belgorod Region.

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