Brittany-based Algaia believes that there is “huge potential” for seaweed to become a more prominent ingredient in food products due to its sustainable and healthy attributes, Bohin explained.
“Algae based products are known to benefit from an excellent consumer perception. Consumers usually associate algae as being low calorie and rich in various healthy components,” he said.
Algae is a good source of several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Consumption has also been linked to various health benefits, including improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Algaia stresses that seaweed consumers CO2 to fuel its growth and does not require the use of fertilisers, pesticides or other chemicals. Nor is land or irrigation water needed for cultivation.
As a result, demand is rising among European food makers.
“We see a double digit demand for our products and we continuously develop new ingredients and solutions to answer growing demand in Europe,” Bohin revealed.
Last year, the French biomarine group expanded its production and innovation capacity. The Brittany-based company established a new specialty seaweed extract line at its dedicated algae production facility in Lannilis. The line includes “innovative technology” developed by Algaia. It also increased the capacity of its innovation centre, located in Saint-Lo, Normandy.
‘An appetite for more’
Bohin believes that there is a “high appetite” from consumers to get more algae in their diets. Compared to consumers in other parts of the world, Europeans currently eat relatively small amounts of algae – opening the door to significantly expand the size of the food ingredients market.
“Some countries in Asia are known to eat up to 30kg of dried Algae per capita and per year. Europe has a long way to go and a huge potential when looking at the reaction of consumers when tasting Algae salad or Algae based snack products for the first time.”
Algaia’s product portfolio consists of a range of texturizing solutions and specialty seaweed extracts, including alginates and carrageenans, which it has offered to the European market since 2015 through a strategic tie-up with Chilean group Gelymar.
Algaia’s ingredients also feed into growing demand for meat-free products, with the potential to capitalise on flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan trends. They are also appropriate for consumers seeking Halal and Kosher options.
The algae innovator explained: “In food, [algae ingredients] help substituting texturizers of animal origin in confectionery applications as an example or in sausages for vegan or multi ethnical segments.”
The texturisers can also be used to develop low-fat formulations that retain an indulgent texture, he added. “They are also widely used in dairy or bakery categories to obtain a low fat recipe with an indulgent value proposition. It must have no effect on colour or flavour, it must only play on the texture that is one of the key item that makes taste.”
As well as offering potential for reformulation to cut fat levels, microalgae can be used as a natural colouring agent or promoted as a health ingredient, Bohin suggested.
Building on Gelymar tie-up
Algaia has worked in partnership with Gelymar since 2015 in Europe. The arrangement has enabled the company to offer a broader portfolio of solutions to customers in the market.
This, Bohin said, is “considered very positively by customers”.
“Products are often synergistic or complementary in applications. It helps customers to have one party that looks first at the best solution for specific application and offers the best possible solution rather than just pushing the product it has to sell.
“Customers want to deal with specialists, very knowledgeable, socially responsible and innovative suppliers. [Breadth of the] portfolio needs to be offered with other attributes like agility, professionalism and deep understanding. In short, our full portfolio is beneficial for European customers in terms of efficiency, providing the best solution with best possible service.”
The success of this cooperation agreement means that Algaia and Gelymar have struck a deal that will see the companies use a joint commercialisation channel in the US.
Both Gelymar and Algaia will market their products in the North American region through AIDP Inc., Algaia’s current US distributor.
Bohin noted: “We have a long history of trustworthy collaboration and both companies share the same obsession for customer satisfaction, sustainable sourcing, waste valorization, environmental protection, CSR, highest industry standards, agility, and innovation spirit. As of now, our US customers will be able to benefit from these synergies as well.”