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Could microalgae be the next big thing in fat reduction?

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

16-Sep-2013
Last updated on 16-Sep-2013 at 13:20 GMT

Could microalgae be the next big thing in fat reduction?

Roquette is set to introduce high lipid algal flours as ingredients in bakery, sauces, beverages and prepared meals, to reduce fat, replace common allergens and cut costs.

The ingredients will be showcased at FIE in Frankfurt this November, and the company has production capacity of 5,000 tonnes per year at its plant in Lestrem, Northern France, to meet anticipated demand. It is currently providing interested parties with samples for product development, ahead of full commercialisation from the beginning of 2014.

High lipid algal flour contains 50% lipids, and the company has developed baked goods, including brioche without butter or eggs, with sensory qualities similar to regular versions, but with impressive fat reductions.

A brioche prototype containing algal flour has 70% less fat and 25% fewer calories than regular brioche. Roquette has also developed muffins with reduced butter content, and a butter-and-egg-free hollandaise sauce, with a 73% fat reduction and 64% fewer calories.

Global products manager Valerie le Bihan told FoodNavigator: “This is really a multicomponent product with interesting functionalities. It is really a network of components…Because it is all in one cell, you know there is no problem within formulation.”

She said that the ingredient is particularly useful in replacing texturising and creamy ingredients.

“This can bring cost reduction. We are playing with expensive ingredients, like butter or egg,” she said.

The company says there is already proven success for the high lipid algal flour in bakery, soups, sauces and dressings, and beverages, but there is also emerging interest for its use in other applications, including confectionery.

From a regulatory perspective, high lipid algal flour is not considered a novel food in Europe, and it also has achieved FDA GRAS in the United States.

It would be labelled as ‘whole algal flour’ on product ingredient lists, and is certified gluten-free, GMO-free, kosher and halal.

The microalgae business is a relatively new addition to Roquette’s portfolio, with its Algohub research programme set up in 2008, and it acquired Klötze in Germany for microalgae production the same year. Roquette now has some 40 patents in the field of microalgae.

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