Heliae produces algae-based ingredients that offer advanced nutritional value to nutraceutical, food, and feed products.

Heliae produces algae-based ingredients that offer advanced nutritional value to nutraceutical, food, and feed products.

Caroline Scott-Thomas reports on Food Navigator about an online algae discussion on the social media site Reddit where Mars’ chief agricultural officer Howard-Yana Shapiro voiced his opinion that lack of scalability still prevents algae and plant proteins from being used as major food sources. “To date, no one has figured out how to deal with issues such as drying the material efficiently, how to extract the protein and not have it be a green color – which is not desirable for many people – the water-use issues, and what the best varieties are to grow that offer the most promise for the future of food.”

He said, in the online discussion that was a part of the Science AMA (Ask Me Anything) Series, that people are pushing the boundaries, but that it was not yet financially viable. Mars is working with researchers on many of these issues, he said, and finding solutions is dependent on collaboration.

Dr. Shapiro suggested that scale was also an issue for plant-based proteins. “There will always be a desire for animal-based protein. What we really need to do is understand how vegetative protein can take the pressure off of the production of animal protein.”

“Plant-based proteins could satisfy a large portion of the population with textures, flavors and attributes that mimic animal-based proteins,” he said, “but discoveries in these areas need to be scaled up and financed to get this to a place where plant-based protein in every region of the world is an integral part of the daily diet.”

The Mars family has been involved in the development of algae since 2008, founding Heliae on the premise that algae can provide significant value to society if commercialized. Their stated goal is to be the leading provider of algae production technologies worldwide.