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  • Why Are Food Companies Investing in Algae?

Why Are Food Companies Investing in Algae?

Jan 23 2016

Slimy, overriding and gruesomely green, ‘algae’ is the last thing consumers expect to see on an ingredients list. Yet despite its lacklustre reputation one of the biggest flavouring and specialty natural ingredient companies on the planet is channelling a huge amount of cash into algae research. According to Frutarom Industries, it sees algae as a lucrative ingredient with the potential to enhance its huge range of food and cosmetic products.

It has so much faith in the plant that it recently purchased 50% of an up and coming biotech start-up called Algalo. Based on a communal farm in northern Israel, Algalo actively develops new ways to cultivate, harvest and process a different algae types.

The allure of algae

So what makes algae so special? In-house scientists at Frutarom Industries believe that thanks to the strong antioxidants, lipids and proteins found in algae, it has the power to boost cardiovascular and immune systems and strengthen bone structure.

Using a cost-efficient photobioreactor Algalo uses light to mass cultivate algae. Frutarom was quick to catch on to the innovative technology, investing US$2.56 million in Algalo shares. The cash will be used to build an ultra-modern biotechnology facility designed exclusively for algae harvesting on a commercial scale.

Could algae spell big profits?

With the algae-based ingredient market estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s a money-spinning venture for Frutarom Chief Executive, Ori Yehudai.

"We foresee the rapid growth in this market continuing in coming years in light of consumer trends towards healthier and more natural products," he said.

A new era of health

If the venture is a success we could start to see algae incorporated into a myriad of Frutarom products, from food, dietary and clinical nutrition supplements to cosmetics.

"Frutarom believes that biotechnology represents the next generation in the development and production of innovative natural ingredients for the industries which it serves, and the Company intends to continue expanding its capabilities in this area by intensifying investment in R&D within its laboratories as well as through additional investments and joint ventures with research institutions, universities and startup companies to which Frutarom can contribute from its experience in applied R&D, its industrial manufacturing and from its global deployment in over 150 countries with sales to more than 20,000 customers including leading global companies in foods and beverages, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics," adds Yehudai.

Mother Nature has blessed the earth with a kaleidoscope of superfoods. ‘Isolation and Identification of Green Pigments from Waste Pineapple Peels’ looks at alternative uses for pineapple peels, with scientists employing Green Chemistry Principles to extract and isolate chlorophyll biodegradation products from pineapple peel waste.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo credits: Jaime Brown

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