The company showcased the concept products at nutraceutical trade show Vitafoods Europe in Geneva last month.
"It's really new to incorporate chlorella in such foods - before it was only in food supplements format or gels," Emily Lauwaert, Roquette's marketing communication manager told ConfectioneryNews.
Chlorella is a green microalgae that has proved popular in food supplements, particularly in Asia.
"We call it a superfood because it's rich in essential nutrients. It's well known for its antioxidant properties and for its detoxifying properties because it's rich in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll attracts heavy metal and pollutants from the hair,” she said.
Chlorella has traditionally been added to food supplements in pill form. "We tried to find some solutions to incorporate it in everyday foods. Maybe consumers would prefer to have it on an everyday basis without taking a pill,” said Lauwaert.
Proven health benefits?
Chorella holds no positive health opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), but manufacturers are able to claim chlorella gummies or chewing gum are 'superfoods' or 'full of essential nutrients’.
"Chlorella is well known in Japan and has been well-consumed for decades for these detoxifying properties,” said Roquette’s communications manager, adding that even after Hiroshima nuclear attack in 1945, public authorities distributed chlorella to the general public.
"There is lots of literature but very few clinical studies demonstrate the benefits on health, so we are really at the early stages to prove the real effects in the body,” said Lauwaert.
However, she said Roquette had conducted an in-house study that indicated potential skin health benefits from chlorella. "We've noticed a reduction of healing time thanks to oral supplementation of chlorella," she claimed.
Chlorella’s strong green color means the gummies and chewing gum interior can only be black or green. "But green is really in fashion today because you have the feeling that it's really coming from nature,” said Lauwaert.
"The challenge was to find the right flavor to cover the taste of chlorella," she continued.
Roquette has opted for a pineapple flavor to mask the chlorella taste in its gummy bear and chewing gum concepts, but says kiwi or blackcurrant are also possibilities.
Lauwaert claimed consumers would need to eat six of Roquette’s chlorella gummies (24.5 g of chlorella) a day to obtain a detoxifying benefit. The company’s chewing gum concept is sweetened with the polyol maltitol and a consumer would need to chew 13 pieces for the same dosage.