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Algae protein promises ‘ultra-premium alternative to soy and whey’

By Elaine Watson , 17-Oct-2011
Last updated on 17-Oct-2011 at 15:32 GMT2011-10-17T15:32:12Z

RAE's algae protein isolate is an 'ultra-premium alternative' to whey and soy protein, claims the firm

RAE's algae protein isolate is an 'ultra-premium alternative' to whey and soy protein, claims the firm

Renewable Algal Energy (RAE) – the latest entrant into the rapidly-heating-up market for nutritional ingredients from microalgae – will be able to supply commercial quantities of its novel algal oils and proteins by the third quarter of 2012, bosses have revealed.

RAE’s algae protein isolate – which will initially be targeted at higher-end nutritional products, could also be a cost effective alternative to proteins used for technical purposes, RAE chief financial officer Victor Allen told NutraIngredients-USA.

“RAE’s Algae Protein is an ultra-premium alternative to soy and whey. It is a highly concentrated complete protein sourced to provide a superior amino acid profile without the undesirable aspects of other protein isolates such as soy and whey.

“Even though final pricing has not been determined it will be competitively priced. As market penetration develops it should be an equally valuable entry into the ‘technical ingredient’ market. More information will be provided regarding taste, texture and processing as we develop our fact sheet for end-product producers.”

Nutritional powerhouse

The algal oil, which contains omega 3, 6 and 9 plus “significant levels of naturally occurring GLA (gamma linolenic acid), lutein, zeaxanthin and a rich mixture of carotenoids along with natural vitamin E and tocotrienols to enhance stability”, had “many advantages” over rival plant-and marine-based omega-3s, claimed Allen.

The response to both products at the SupplySide West show in Las Vegas last week had been “enthusiastic”, said Allen, who was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA after striking a deal with B&D Nutritional Ingredients to distribute its algal ingredients to dietary supplement makers and food and drink manufacturers.

RAE, which has a pilot plant in Arizona, will start production at a new commercial facility in the first quarter of next year and supply commercial quantities of oil and protein in Q3, he revealed.

Details of production capacity under wraps – for now

The algae will be grown in large “un-agitated” open ponds and will be harvested via “a unique and patent pending low-energy technology process that doesn’t use chemicals”, he added.

“Final extraction technologies are being perfected and our choice of techniques will be made available when fact sheets are provided to end-product producers. At this time RAE is not disclosing capacities of its existing, or planned facilities.”

He would not disclose the strain of algae from which the new products are derived but said: “RAE uses a proprietary, naturally-occurring and fully renewable microalgae. RAE’s intellectual property portfolio is broad based and includes both patents issued and pending.”

Competitive environment

RAE is one of several firms promising to bring novel algal-derived ingredients to the food and supplements market in 2012, joining Solazyme-Roquette Nutritionals (developing a unique algal flour for reduced fat products), Aurora Algae (promising an ultra- concentrated 65% EPA-rich oil) and Algae Biotechnologies (promising oils containing sought-after long chain omega-3s EPA and DHA).

However, direct comparisons between these players are difficult as each have different microalgae strains, different technologies and different end products. RAE’s algal oil may also compete in a different segment of the market as it is not offering highly concentrated EPA/DHA.

A breakthrough opportunity for finished product consumers?

B&D Nutritional Ingredients chief executive Bill Van Dyke said: “RAE’s unique single source for multiple ingredients provides a breakthrough opportunity for finished product producers to limit their sourcing requirements while at the same time providing their customers with a rich and balanced combination of high-value ingredients.

“This nutritional platform derived from a renewable source provides an opportunity that comes along only once every two or three decades.”

Founded in 2007 and based in Tennessee, RAE has developed patent-pending technology for algal aquaculture systems to produce products for the renewable fuels, nutrition and nutraceutical markets.

California-based B&D sells and markets raw materials to the dietary supplement, functional food and personal care industries.

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