Swiss food manufacturer Nestlé has partnered with Dutch ingredients supplier Corbion to produce microalgae-based ‘next-generation’ sustainable, tasty and nutritious products. Nestlé’s plant-based portfolio already includes beverages such as almond, coconut and oat-based creamers, non-dairy Häagen-Dazs ice cream and pea and soy-based vegan burgers. Now Nestlé/Corbion aim to develop and commercialize the functionality, taste and nutritional profile of the tiny seaweed plant for use in different types of food products.
“We are actively exploring the use of microalgae as an alternative protein and micro-nutrient source for exciting plant-based products. Through the partnership with Corbion, we will be able to use great-tasting, nutritious microalgae-based ingredients to innovate across our different product categories,” said Stefan Palzer, Nestlé’s Chief Technology Officer.
What is Microalgae?
Microalgae is the smallest unicellular species of green plant and is typically found in freshwater lakes and rivers or in our oceans. It is believed that (through photosynthesis) it contributes more than half of the oxygen we breathe.
And its benefits?
With all eight essential amino acids, microalgae has more proteins than most other plant-based sources, that include wheat, beans, and soybeans. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and has been shown to increase good cholesterol levels, improve immune function, and may even boost gut health, among other benefits.
You can already buy microalgae-based products in health bars and snacks like spirulina bites, spirulina chips, pizza crust, wraps, and banana crisps. You’ll also find it in green smoothie mixes and in a wide range of powders and pills, including vegan omega-3 supplements and liquid chlorophyll supplements. Two popular products, proved to help fibromyalgia patients, are Sun Chlorella and Wakasa Gold.
Furthermore, microalgae is sustainable since it grows in all types of waters and temperatures, grows five to ten times more rapidly than terrestrial plants and only needs a tenth of those lands to produce the same biomass.
In a Forbes article, climate scientists Charles Greene said that he sees microalgae as the sustenance for the world’s 10 billion people in 2050, as well as the best way to combat malnutrition in the developing world.
Small wonder, then, that according to Marc den Hartog, EVP of Innovation Platforms at Corbion: “We are excited to partner with Nestlé to develop the next generation of algae-based ingredients. Corbion has already demonstrated the value of algae in several high-value food and feed applications. This new protein partnership with Nestlé has the potential to open important avenues for algae-based products into large global markets.”