Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - Europe

Market entry of a microalgae-derived fat reducer edges nearer

By Jane Byrne , 27-Oct-2011

Related topics: Carbohydrates and fibres (sugar, starches), Science, Sugar, salt and fat reduction

Commercial scale-up of a microalgae derived flour algae is expected to get underway in December this year, with anticipated market entry for set for 2012, claims Solazyme and Roquette.

Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals (SRN), a joint venture between the two companies, was set up in November 2010 to combine French starch producer Roquette's capabilities as a global food ingredient supplier with Solazyme's technology to produce multifunctional ingredients based on microalgae.

Production of the alliance’s lead microalgae derived food ingredient, Whole Algalin Flour, is being scaled up at Roquette's plant in Lestrem, France.

A 300 metric tonne (mt) facility will be completed on-schedule within the next few months and operational in early 2012, said the companies, adding that this plant will subsequently be expanded into a 5,000mt phase II production site towards the end of next year.

When asked why production is located in France and not the US, Philippe Caillat, senior director marketing, SRN, told that the Lestrem site has the necessary equipment and engineering expertise and the location also facilitates greater speed to market.

Bakery, drinks and dairy innovation

He said that the joint venture is launching the algal flour ingredient in the US and European markets simultaenously - in early 2012, and will target, in the main, the bakery, beverage and dairy sectors.

In terms of the regulatory status for SRN products, Caillat said the microalgae-derived ingredients are self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) in the US. “In Europe, our products are considered as ingredients, and therefore do not fall under the novel foods legislation,” he continued.

The joint venture is already selling a line of nutritional supplement ingredients.

Fat-reduction in foods

Algal flour may provide a one-step solution to the challenges of fat-reduction in foods, with low-fat cookies, crackers, and salad dressings possible new arrivals on supermarket shelves, according to the two companies.

The company’s algal flour does contain lipid (50% of the flour is lipid), but the composition is similar to olive oil, explained Leslie Norris, food applications development for Solazyme, speaking to our sister site earlier this year.

The flour also contains 20% soluble fibre and 8% insoluble fibre.

Product prototypes

The flour has been tested in a range of food and beverage products including chocolate milk formulated with 4.5% of the ingredient, which was said to contain 16% fewer calories, 66% less saturated fat, and 71% less cholesterol than the full-fat version.

Shortbread cookies formulated with 7% algal flour and one-third the butter used in normal shortbread were said to demonstrat a 50% reduction in fat and a 57% cut in saturated fat content.