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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
Nutritional Outlook has pegged algae as one of 2015's ingredients to watch. Check back daily as we release new predictions.
Algae uses in food, beverage, and supplements keep expanding. Take food and bev.
Thanks to the 2010 Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals joint venture between Roquette (Lestrem, France) and Solazyme Food Ingredients (San Francisco, CA), food formulators can now use algae to address some key challenges and make foods and beverages healthier. Whole algal flour, for instance, is a fat and egg replacer, thanks to algae’s high lipid content. The two companies parted ways in 2013, but each continued rolling out its own algae line last year. Roquette’s Algility and Solazyme’s AlgaVia both include whole algal flour and algal protein. Last summer, Roquette announced a new microalgae production unit in Lestrem.
With AlgaVia, Solazyme is serving up some new food concepts, such as algal milk. Unlike Horizon’s DHA-fortified milks, this milk is dairy free.
“While Horizon’s beverage consists of cow’s milk that has been fortified with DHA derived from algae, Solazyme has created a non-dairy milk alternative formulated using whole algal flour and whole algal protein,” explains Mark Brooks, senior vice president. Algal milk is also allergen free because it contains no soy, nuts, lactose, or gluten, he points out. Low-fat milk is even possible due to AlgaVia flour’s ability to reduce fat in formulation. By replacing 2% milk with skim milk and adding 1.5% AlgaVia flour, for instance, the company made a chocolate milk that is 40% lower in total fat, 66% lower in saturated fat, and 5% lower in calories-all “while maintaining an indulgent chocolate taste you would get from a full-fat product,” Brooks says.
Also ongoing for Solazyme is a highly stable high-oleic algal oil to replace partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and highly saturated fats (think frying and margarine). This oil contains the lowest level of polyunsaturated fat compared to other oils on the market and up to 90% monounsaturated fats, according to Solazyme.
Elsewhere in algae, there is now extreme focus on highlighting the unique benefits specific to strains and sources.
Members of the new Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA) continue their mission to draw a line between nature-identical astaxanthin and astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis algae. Edward Wyszumiala, NAXA’s president, tells Nutritional Outlook that “NAXA’s 2015 key focus will be to increase our efforts to educate industry and regulators of the importance of using only natural astaxanthin for use in supplements and foods, and funding additional clinical research on natural astaxanthin while comparing the results against synthetic and semi-synthetic forms of astaxanthin in the market.” NAXA says it also plans to start “policing” the astaxanthin market by testing raw materials and finished products against specifications and label claims because, according to the organization, “unfortunately, there are materials in the market that claim to be astaxanthin that are sub-potent, synthetic, or not astaxanthin at all,” Wyszumiala says.
One algae supplier, Qualitas Health (Imperial, TX), is producing an EPA-rich ingredient from Nannochloropsis oculata with a highly bioavailable molecular polar lipid structure comprising both phospholipids and glycolipids. Last year, the company saw the first commercial products launch featuring AlmegaPL and also filed the first FDA New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) notification for this algae species.
Longtime blue-green algae grower Desert Lake Technologies (Klamath Falls, OR) rebranded last year as Cerule and came out swinging with Cyactiv, a brand new spirulina ingredient (Arthrospira platensis). Cyactiv’s anti-inflammatory benefits are due to the ingredient’s unique composition of both phycocyanin and non-phycocyanin compounds that provide multiple benefits, including for joints and muscles, the firm says.
Algae activity is ripe everywhere. Solid-dosing specialist Capsugel (Greenwood, SC) is developing a line of nature-identical astaxanthin products with life sciences firm Cardax. Valensa (Orlando) and algae biotech Algaeon (Indianapolis, IN) plan to market a proprietary, beta-glucan–rich Euglena gracilis ingredient, Immunum Pro, for immune health. Archers Daniel Midland (Decatur, IL) is partnering with Synthetic Genomics (La Jolla, CA) to commercialize a DHA-rich ingredient. A new player out of Portugal, Allma, is specializing in chlorella (Chlorella vulgaris). One company, finished-product brand Aqua Health Labs, is now even marketing an EPA-rich liquid supplement containing live, unprocessed Nannochloropsis oculata that the firm claims is highly bioavailable because it is straight from the source.
Working towards commercial scale-up means many firms are grappling with production and supply challenges. But this is expected to slowly change. “Supply was a limiting factor in the last two years, and therefore many companies put on hold new product launches. Due to the increase in availability of astaxanthin, we expect that demand will keep going up, especially in new categories such as functional food and beverages,” says Efrat Kat, director of sales and marketing for astaxanthin supplier Algatechnologies (Israel), which is in the second stage of its three-part plan to double output of its AstaPure astaxanthin.
High activity in algae indicates that this will be an ingredient to watch closely over the next few years. “A healthy network of companies that are using algal technologies to provide multiple solutions to the food, supplement, and pharma markets is positive for the industry as a whole,” says David Hart, vice president of marketing, Qualitas. “It broadens the acceptance of algae as a source for nutraceuticals and leads to a vibrant, dynamic industry. The vegetarian source and environmental sustainability of algae are currently among the most ‘on-trend’ consumer trends.”
2015 Ingredients to Watch
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