New-look microalgae: Newly approved Chlorella vulgaris powders accentuates ice creams, shakes, cakes and pasta
26 Mar 2021 --- Two Chlorella vulgaris microalgae powders, manufactured by the Portuguese provider Allmicroalgae, have been approved as food ingredients and food supplements by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The variants White and Yellow Chlorella vulgaris are noted for their sensory profile. Compared to conventional, intensely green-coloured products, these latest offerings are more visually neutral and deliver a discrete taste profile, while offering the same nutritional value.
Due to the increasing demand for plant-based food solutions – such as in bakery and confectionery, in ice creams, mayonnaises and snacks – Yellow Chlorella works well as an egg substitute, while White Chlorella can replace conventional dairy bases such as milk, increasing the protein content of the product.
“In light-coloured end products in particular, the use of Chlorella vulgaris as an ingredient has been very limited. Nevertheless, there is positive interest from the food industry,” highlights Joana Laranjeira da Silva, plant manager at Allmicroalgae.
A host of functionalities
Both Chlorellas are effective texturizing and thickening agents. Yellow Chlorella can also be used as a natural food colouring agent. These products are available dried or as a paste, with variable protein functionality.
“Our yellow and white microalgae variants deliver the full functional package of proteins, fiber and other valuable nutrients, while also promising environmental and sustainability benefits,” notes Laranjeira da Silva.
As a natural plant-based source of protein containing all the essential amino acids, the powders can be used in health-promoting food and beverages meeting consumer demand for immunity and a protein punch that does not contain ingredients of animal origin.
Microalgae for immunity
With Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend for 2021 “In-Tune with Immune” trend in full swing, the detoxifying and antioxidant properties make microalgae an applicable ingredient for premium positionings in the health and well-being sector – for instance, in products supporting immune health.
While offering 35 to 40 percent protein content, Yellow and White Chlorella vulgaris also contain impressive amounts (over 20 percent) of dietary fiber.
They are also a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – namely the omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids – while containing a wide array of minerals and vitamins, such as vitamins B2 and B12, as well as zinc and phosphorus.
Allmicroalgae conducted its R&D activities in collaboration with a Portuguese university to achieve these versatile and unique Chlorella ingredients for use in a wide range of applications.
The reduction of chlorophyll content is key to their improved sensory properties, which can be achieved under heterotrophic fermentation of novel strains of Chlorella vulgaris, the company notes.
In October, Allmicroalgae unveiled plans to scale up its algae production to 120 metric tons of raw materials per year by 2022. The increase represents a 50 percent expansion of current capacities and a doubling of output compared to its initial volumes.
Health claim positionings
Thanks to microalgae’s nutritional composition, desirable health claims are also possible. These include the maintenance of blood cholesterol levels, normal vision and bone health, as well as reduction of tiredness, cell protection and immune system support.
Such claims allow for product positionings in the general health and well-being sectors, cognitive and heart health categories, and also energy and sports supplement segments.
These novel Chlorella launches, based on 100 percent microalgae, can be used beyond the vegan market, and across wider food segments. White and Yellow Chlorella are certified as non-GMO, and are free from soy, gluten, lactose, sugar, nuts and additives.
Their production process is irradiation-free, and the ingredients do not contain pesticides, perchlorates and pathogenic flora such as Bacillus cereus.
In a recent video interview with FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister platform, NutritionInsight, Laranjeira da Silva detailed Allmicroalgae’s involvement in the Algavalor project that will explore the development and release of several products in food, feed, cosmetic and biofertilizer markets.
Big moves in microalgae
The alternative protein category is one of the fastest-growing, and microalgae is a viable contender for helping the world meet its future protein needs.
Microalgae has been recently in the spotlight as multinationals and start-ups alike move quickly to take stake in the promising ingredient.
Israeli start-up Yemoja observed last June that “the awareness for the potential microalgae-based ingredients is increasing sharply,” as the company announced a scaling up of its microalgae production capacity.
Last July, Unilever partnered with biotech start-up Algenuity to “innovate future foods” for Unilever’s plant-based portfolio.
Netherlands-based Duplaco also recently made significant investments in microalgae, increasing its microalgae production by 20 times.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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