The future of food: Protein made from 'thin air' to compete with soya

Meat-free and plant based diets seem to be [growing in popularity](http://Veganuary: what) year on year, but another alternative is gathering momentum.

Food "literally born out of thin air".

That's the claim from a group of Finnish scientists who say the protein they produce could compete with soya within the decade.

The food-tech company Solar Foods says the protein is more environmentally friendly too. Credit: Solar Foods

Researchers at Solar Foods claim to have made a protein that can be produced "anywhere" using just "air and electricity".

The creators claim the result is the "purest and most sustainable protein in the world" and could well be the next big competitor in the meat-free market.

Researchers hope to build a factory of carbon-neutral protein production. Credit: Solar Foods

Solar Foods' Chief Technology Officer, Dr Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, compares the process of making the protein to that of brewing beer.

In an interview on the laboratory's YouTube page the scientist says: "It is a little bit like brewing beer or producing lactic acid for yogurt.

"We have an organism which grows using CO2 and electricity through hydrogen as the raw material.

"In essence, the organism grows, and then we produce the organism and dry it for the food ingredient purposes."

The protein is made in a fermenter 'almost identical' to ones used in breweries and wineries. Credit: Solar Foods

As well as a price competitor, co-founder of the project Dr Pari Vainikka, says the protein could be a more energy efficient way of producing food.

On their website the food-tech company claims to be "100 times more climate-friendly than meat and 10 times better than plants."

Solar Foods says its production produces "negligible" amounts of CO2 in the production process.

Other developments in meat-free food production includes the 'Impossible Burger' made entirely from plant-based materials. Credit: AP

In terms of taste and appearance, the protein is described by Solar Foods on their website as simply "neutral".

Scientists say the protein is like a "magic trick" and claim the powder "vanishes" into your meal without losing any of its nutritional value.

A vanishing protein made from "thin air" might well be the future of food in terms of the financial and climate costs, but how appealing the futuristic food is to consumers remains to be seen.