Eclo (previously known as Le Champignon de Bruxelles) is an urban farm that produces exotic mushrooms, microgreens, and aromatic baby herbs.
In the latest development, the Brussels-based company raised €4.7M in funding from Noshaq, Investsud Bois, GoGreen Capital, and private investors.
How will the funding be used?
The company plans to use the funds to install a high-tech 4,200 sqm factory in Villers-le-Bouillet in the province of Liège at the beginning of 2023.
With this fundraising, the company aims to become an industry 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.
Develops exotic mushroom
Founded in 2014 by Hadrien Velge, Eclo has been working 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.
Eclo currently operates on 3,000 m² of the Cureghem Cellars in Brussels city centre, making it the largest underground farm in Belgium.
The company has partnered with local businesses: Cantillon Brewery for spent beer grain, the Colruyt Group, and Bon Pain for organic bread.
In 2021, the facilities in Anderlecht enabled Eclo to produce 330 tons of substrate while recycling 23 tons of brewery and bread waste. The company also produced 104,000 units of microgreens and baby herbs and recycled 23 tons of organic waste.
Eclo works with the key players in the organic distribution in Belgium, more than 300 organic shops and nearly 160 local restaurants
“In recent years, we have seen strong growth in demand for gourmet mushrooms such as shiitake and eryngii. The market currently has a shortage of quality substrates, and that creates recurring supply problems for producers. With ECLO, we have been investing for several years in research to improve the yield of our substrates. As a result, we have now attracted significant interest from European producers,” says Hadrien Velge, CEO & Founder of ECLO.
From October 2022, the company will start moving its substrate production out of the Cureghem Cellars and installing it in Villers-le-Bouillet.
The relocation of this part of the operation stems from a significant need for production space.
The other part of the operation, fresh mushroom harvesting and the production of microgreens and aromatic herbs, will continue to be carried out on the urban farm in Brussels.
The first phase of production will produce up to 3,600 tons of substrate per year in 2024. In the second phase, around 7,000 tons of substrate will come out of the factory each year from 2026.
As substrate production is very susceptible to contamination, the factory will be equipped with a high-tech automated production line for the most critical parts of the process.
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
“Noshaq is very pleased to join Eclo and support its installation in Liège, on a site that matches its ambitions. It is an innovative and circular project, which recycles industrial organic waste while creating jobs locally. These objectives are at the heart of the ecosystem strategy currently being developed by Noshaq in the agri-food sector,” says Alain Balthazart, investment manager at Noshaq.
“We were won over by the vision, dynamism, and professionalism of a team with very complementary talents. We are delighted to participate in this excellent project which adds value to related products from our Walloon sawmills,” says Gilles Koestel, operational manager at Investsud Bois.