Unilever and Biotech StartUp Algenuity have announced a new partnership. It is to explore the ‘huge’ potential micro-algae bring in innovative future foods for Unilever’s plant-based portfolio. This partnership will enable Unilever’s Food and Refreshment R&D team to leverage the Bio-Tech Start-Up’s unique algae processing technology. And, ingredients to bring in food made with micro-algae to the mass market. “Micro-algae offer much-untapped potential as a viable, climate-friendly protein alternative. They have a significant part to play in the food transformation system. We are looking forward to working with Algenuity to explore the possibilities of making foods that contain microalgae more mainstream.” Said Alejandro Amezquita, Unilever F&R. Algenuity is a start-up that specialises in developing micro-algae for use in consumer products.
SUSTAINABLE AND NUTRITIOUS
According to the UN, by 2050 the global population is expected to reach 9.8 billion. To feed this exploding population, the world will need to produce around 70% more food. However, this increase must be achieved within the planetary limitations of land and water and taking into consideration the food-related emissions. Thus, the food will need to meet a high nutritional standard while also reducing their impact on the environment.
“Development of alternative protein sources like micro-algae represents a significant step in the critical shift needed to an equitable and resilient food system.” The company said.
Both the partner companies- Unilever and Algenuity recognise their key roles. Diverse, plant-based proteins such as micro-algae will play in the transition towards a new food system. Algenuity’s neutral flavoured plant-based protein-rich ingredients, Chlorella Vulgaris whole-cell ingredient provides a rich source of neutral-tasting, functional plant-based proteins. Chlorella possesses numerous additional beneficial nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Chlorella Vulgaris is a highly efficient source of protein that can be produced year-round at scale. It requires low land, water and carbon footprint. Microalgae offer a higher protein yield than many other plant-based proteins sources. Additionally, microalgae are loaded with a variety of bioactive components. Microalgae contain healthy lipids, antioxidants and various micronutrients. It is a source of Vitamin A, B1, B6, B12, C and E and minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and iodine.
TECHNOLOGY DEFEATS BITTER TASTE AND SMELL
The bitter taste and smell of Chlorella are attributed to high chlorophyll content. Chlorella Colours palette developed by Algenuity. It significantly reduces the chlorophyll content of microalgae while still allowing them to retain their natural nutrients. This development unlocks a variety of potential of microalgae in the food and beverage sector. This development basically brings the opportunity to develop a sustainable source of protein to meet the increasing consumer demand. “The varieties of Chlorella Vulgaris are developed using non-GM plant breeding methodologies with screening for varieties that are deficient in chlorophyll. Just like autumn when leaves lose chlorophyll then the chlorophyll is no longer made by Chlorella. SO, Algenuity can identify variants that are yellow, lime, white and even red.” Dr Spicer, CEO of Algenuity revealed. This results in variants with different colours that are neutral in taste.
TECHNOLOGY TO UNLOCK NEW POTENTIAL
Unilever believes Algenuity’s technology opens up a variety of potential applications in the food industry.
Plant-based innovation is a priority for Unilever. Plant-based products make up around a third of the company’s portfolio, including dairy-free and vegan options such as Hellmann’s Vegan and Magnum vegan. Unilever’s Aben said, “Ensuring our products taste great is always a top priority. We want our consumers to enjoy our brand and products and to continue to choose them.” While Andrew Spicer says: ” We are delighted to partner with Unilever on this.”
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