Belgium-based Indoor Farming company, Eclo announced a successful raise of 4.7 million euros to build a high-tech 4,200 sqm factory in Villers-le-Bouillet in the province of Liège at the beginning of 2023. This will position Eclo as a key player in the exotic mushroom industry in Europe, with an annual production of 7,000 tons of mushroom substrate from recycled organic waste by 2026. Noshaq, Investsud Bois, GoGreen Capital, and private investors took part in this funding round. Operational support for this funding was provided by Ubiz.
Eclo has been working since 2016 to develop recipes that replace grains in exotic mushroom substrates – generally made from a wood base, grains, water, and mycelium – with organic waste from breweries and industrial bakeries. Located in the Cureghem Cellars in Brussels, the first professional facilities produced significant and encouraging results. The company’s operation is based on a short supply-chain strategy for raw materials, through partnerships with local businesses: Cantillon Brewery for spent beer grain, the Colruyt Group, and Bon Pain for organic bread.
Last year, the facilities in Anderlecht enabled Eclo to produce 330 tons of substrate while recycling 23 tons of brewery and bread waste. This production will increase with the closing of a Series A financing round of 4.7 million euros as announced by a recent press release. in which Noshaq, Investsud Bois, GoGreen Capital, and private investors participated in the installation of a high-tech 4,200 sqm factory in Villers-le-Bouillet in the province of Liège in early 2023.
The purpose of this fundraising is also to position Eclo as a European leader in mushroom substrates in Europe thanks to an increased production, which will supply the French, Dutch, Swiss and German markets, where the consumption of exotic mushrooms is growing every year.
Eclo’s plan includes a high-tech facility in Liege
The company will start using the facility following a phased approach in which, the company will first start moving its substrate production from its current site to Villers-le-bouillet in October 2022. The first phases’ output should be able to produce up to 3,600 tons of substrate per year in 2024 before moving to the second phase which should produce 7,000 tons of substrate, expected to be achieved in 2026.
To prevent potential contamination, the facility is equiped with automated machinery in order to reduce the hadnling and the subsequent contimation risk of the substrate. The factory will be powered by 1,500 sqm of photovoltaic panels. These infrastructures should generate 20 more new jobs by 2026, in addition to the 12 people currently employed for its Brussels operation.
Exotic mushroom substrates are usually made from a wood base, grain, water and mycelium. These materials are mixed together and placed in conditions that are favourable to the growth of mycelium. After a few months, the substrate is completely colonised by mycelium, and it is then ready to fruit its mushrooms.
It is this completely colonised substrate that will be marketed when it leaves the factory, where several varieties will be produced, including shiitake, eryngii, nameko, maitake and pompom. As the company states: “the aim is to position Eclo as a major player in mushroom substrates in Europe. These substrates will be targeted at mushroom producers in the Belgian, French, Dutch and German markets.”
An in situ expansion of production, together with an increase in Eclo’s organic waste recycling capacity, i.e., 7,000 tons of substrate for 700 tons of spent beer grain or bread waste recycled from 2026.
- Spent beer grain and bread waste recycled annually: 360 tons in phase 1 (2024) and 700 tons in phase 2 (2026).
- Sawdust (sawmill residue) recycled annually: 960 tons in phase 1 (2024) and 1680 tons in phase 2 (2026).
To meet these projections, the company is aiming to supplement its supply of organic spent beer grain and organic bread waste, in addition to that supplied by existing partners, and the arrival of Investsud Bois funds in the capital will, among other things, strengthen the supply of Belgian sawdust. Mycelium will continue to come from the company Mycelia, a long-standing partner of Eclo, located in Ghent.