Nestlé-Corbion microalgae partnership promises “next-generation” alternative proteins for plant-based products
07 Nov 2019 --- Nestlé is joining forces with Dutch food and biochemicals company Corbion for the development of microalgae-based ingredients for plant-based products. The collaboration comes as the Swiss food giant continues to sharpen its plant-based focus having been involved in several new product innovations in the last year. This partnership seeks to develop the “next generation of microalgae-based ingredients” to be used across broader applications and to deliver sustainable and nutritious products. Corbion tells FoodIngredientsFirst that although the collaboration is in the R&D phase with commercialization and markets to be determined later, it has the potential to “open important avenues for algae-based products into large global markets.”
Marc den Hartog, Executive Vice President Innovation Platforms at Corbion, explains that growing trends in health and wellness, clean label, allergen-free, plant-based foods and vegan/vegetarian diets are all pushing up the demand for algae-based protein.
“If we look at the adoption of our current AlgaVia protein ingredients, we see very good interest. Additionally, adoption from food companies is growing. They see a clear added value to incorporating microalgae into their products. We will be able to build on that as we enter into the partnership with Nestlé,” he says.
“This is a joint development agreement focusing on research to further develop the functionality, taste, and nutritional profile of the proteins. Our efforts will establish a platform for the production and commercialization of protein-rich algae ingredients,” he continues.
The functionality of Corbion’s current AlgaVia protein makes it suitable for ready-to-mix beverages, milk drinks, nutrition bars and snacks, Hartog notes. “As we look to next-generation proteins together with Nestlé in this new partnership, the applications will be broader as we change the functionality and nutrition profile.”
Microalgae ingredients have several advantages as they are a vegan source of protein, healthy lipids and various micronutrients. In addition, the production of microalgae has a low carbon, land and water footprint.
“Corbion has already demonstrated the value of algae in several high-value food and feed applications,” Hartog continues. “This new protein partnership with Nestlé has the potential to open important avenues for algae-based products into large global markets. By combining Corbion’s microalgae and fermentation capabilities with Nestlé’s expertise in the development of plant-based products, we are well-positioned to produce and commercialize microalgae-based ingredients rich in protein and micronutrients.”
Nestlé’s plant-based portfolio currently includes various beverages such as almond-, coconut- and oat-based creamers and coffee mixes, non-dairy ice cream, as well as a range of pea and soy-based meat alternatives and prepared dishes.
Balancing plant-based protein and broadening offerings
Corbion is a global market leader in lactic acid and derivatives. It is also a key company in emulsifiers, functional enzyme blends, minerals, vitamins and algae ingredients.
The Nestlé-Corbion partnership comes as consumers continue to seek different ways to balance their protein intake, move away from meat and lower the environmental footprint of their diets. It’s also part of the Swiss food giant’s strategy to position the company toward high-growth categories and pivot its businesses to changing market conditions while renewing its commitment to healthy and nutritional food.
Last month, Nestlé developed vegan alternatives to cheese and bacon, designed to complement its existing plant-based burger patties. Dubbed “The PB triple play”, the vegan cheddar cheese alternative has the texture, meltability and rich taste of a dairy cheese. The vegan bacon alternative becomes crispy and chewy when cooked, similar to animal-based bacon, and has the same satisfying flavor, according to Nestlé.
In August, Nestlé expanded its plant-based food range in Europe with its new “cook from raw” Garden Gourmet Incredible Mince. It also introduced a new and improved version of its Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger.
Vegetarian food innovator, Sweet Earth, which is owned by Nestlé, also unveiled the “Awesome Burger,” earlier this year. The plant-based offering signaled the brand’s latest move in the meat-free market and competes with rival products from the likes of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Nestlé offers Sweet Earth the infrastructure to produce enough burgers to meet the surge in consumer demand, with an industry that is predicted to grow tenfold over the next decade. Sweet Earth also unveiled its Awesome Grounds, which provide the same plant-based protein in a ground version that allows greater flexibility to cook meals and sides, such as meatballs and tacos.
In an in-depth interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, Kelly Swette, CEO and Co-Founder of Sweet Earth, explains how the Awesome Burger was created in a kitchen, not a laboratory, with a focus on achieving “awesome flavor and nutrition in wholesome ways.”
By Gaynor Selby
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