Unilever, Algenuity explore using microalgae protein in plant-based range

Unilever has partnered with biotech firm Algenuity to produce new plant-based foods from microalgae.

The partners are currently developing new products within Unilever’s Foods and Refreshment division intended to meet the rising demand for sustainable nutrition as the world’s population increases to a projected 10 billion people by 2050.

The forms are focusing on Chlorella vulgaris, known as a nutrient-rich source of protein and fibre with a low environmental footprint. The algae is already widely used in food, although its high chlorophyll content gives it a bitter taste and smell. Algenuity’s work has been to reduce the algae’s chlorophyll content while retaining their nutrients.

“Microalgae offer much untapped potential as a viable, climate-friendly protein alternative,” said Unilever F&R future bio-based ingredients R&D director Alejandro Amezquita.

“They have a significant part to play in food system transformation. We are very much looking forward to working with Algenuity to explore the possibilities of making foods that contain microalgae more mainstream.” 

“Our Chlorella Colours platform provides plant-based ingredients that are sustainable, natural, non-GM and protein-rich with neutral flavours,” said Algenuity CEO and founder Andrew Spicer. “They are also vegan-friendly, making them extremely relevant for today’s growing consumer appetite for more plant-based foods with additional functional benefits.”

Plant-based products now make up around a third of Unilever’s portfolio.

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