Unilever and Algenuity partner on microalgae protein potential

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Algenuity specializes in developing microalgae for use in consumer products.  Pic: Getty Images/Stefanie Keller
Algenuity specializes in developing microalgae for use in consumer products. Pic: Getty Images/Stefanie Keller

Related tags Algae algae-based protein

Unilever and biotech start-up Algenuity have announced a new partnership to look at the potential microalgae bring in innovating future foods for Unilever’s plant-based portfolio.

Algenuity, which specializes in developing microalgae for use in consumer products, will work with the R&D team within Unilever’s Foods and Refreshment (F&R) division to explore ways of bringing foods made with microalgae to the market.

By 2050, the world will need to produce 70% more food to feed a growing population of 10bn people. These foods will need to meet a high nutritional standard, while reducing their impact on the environment, the company said.

Unilever and Algenuity said they recognize the key role that diverse, plant-based proteins like microalgae will play in transitioning towards this new food system. Chlorella vulgaris​, a widely recognized (micro)alga, is a nutrient-rich, plant-based source of protein and fiber, with a low environmental footprint.

Chlorella possesses beneficial nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It has been consumed globally for many years, yet its high chlorophyll content, which gives plants their green color and a bitter taste and smell, has proven a barrier to its inclusion in mainstream diets.

Algenuity has developed technology to overcome this limitation. Its Chlorella Colours palette reduces the chlorophyll content of microalgae while still allowing them to retain their natural nutrients. This unlocks a wealth of potential applications for microalgae in the food and beverage sector.

“Microalgae offer much untapped potential as a viable, climate-friendly protein alternative,”​ Alejandro Amezquita, Future Bio-based Ingredients R&D director, Unilever F&R, said.

“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.”

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

“We are very excited about the huge potential working with Algenuity brings to advance nutritious foods that taste great and are a force for good,”​ said Manfred Aben, VP science & technology R&D and site leader of Hive, Unilever’s Global Foods Innovation Centre, in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

“Transitioning to a sustainable food system requires all of us to work together. It’s one of the world’s greatest challenges and will not happen without partnerships and collaborations. This is what our Hive ecosystem is all about. We are delighted to welcome Algenuity to our community.”

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