SINGAPORE, June 16 — Billed as the world’s most sustainable ice cream, this frozen treat is made with no dairy products — and not even plant-based alternatives — just air, water and chocolate.

This is the very first food product developed by the Finnish start-up behind this innovative protein powder that replaces cream and milk.

When it comes to air in ice cream, almost everyone is familiar with the trick used by many manufacturers to reduce the cost of their ice cream.

But that’s not the case with this totally futuristic innovation. This is a vegan ice cream, developed by the Finnish startup Solar Foods, with a recipe designed to prove that it’s possible to reduce the carbon footprint of the food chain without relying on animal farming.

While legumes and other plant-based produce are usually the go-to ingredients to produce vegan food, this innovation defies the codes of anything we’ve seen before by using microbial protein produced by air and water.

Developed in conjunction with the European Space Agency, this new ingredient is called Solein. In concrete terms, scientists cultivate bacteria in the laboratory. These are fed with hydrogen bubbles, carbon dioxide and nutrients.

This process, which the company likens to winemaking, results in the release of proteins. The researchers are then able to capture them and dehydrate them, giving rise to a protein powder.

Solar Foods has already obtained authorisation to market food products made with this ingredient in Singapore.

While 2024 was envisaged as the target for the first sales, a chocolate ice cream containing this ingredient has just been released. It is being served in an Italian restaurant in the city-state.

So why is ice cream the first food to be made with this protein ingredient?

The reason is simple: since approval was given in Singapore last September, the company took particular interest in the dietary preferences of the local population, who are big ice cream fans.

As for the choice of chocolate, it’s the flavour that’s most likely to appeal to everyone.

In the long term, this ice cream will not be a one-of-a-kind, since Solar Foods has already entered into a partnership with Japan’s Ajinomoto food company.

But this ingredient could also be used as an alternative to meat, or poured into drinks. However, for the time being, Solar Foods’ home region of Europe has yet to give the green light to the use of this protein powder in consumer foods. — ETX Studio