nilever, the giant British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company, and UK-based biotech start-up Algenuity, have announced a new partnership to explore the huge potential microalgae bring to future foods for Unilever’s plant-based portfolio.
Unilever and Algenuity recognize the key role that diverse, plant-based proteins like microalgae will play in transitioning towards a new food system that, by 2050, will need to produce 70% more food to feed a growing world population of 10 billion people.
Chlorella vulgaris, a widely recognized microalgae, is a nutrient-rich, plant-based source of protein and fiber, with a low environmental footprint. Chlorella possesses a number of additional beneficial nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It has been consumed globally for many years, yet its high chlorophyll content, which gives plants their green color and a bitter taste and smell, has proven a barrier to its inclusion in mainstream diets.
Algenuity has developed an innovative technology to overcome this limitation. Its Chlorella Colours® palette significantly reduces the chlorophyll content of microalgae while still allowing them to retain their natural nutrients. This unlocks a wealth of potential applications for microalgae in the food and beverage sector. It brings the opportunity to develop a sustainable source of protein that meets increasing consumer demand for nutritious foods that taste great.
“Microalgae offer much untapped potential as a viable, climate-friendly protein alternative,” says Alejandro Amezquita, Future Bio-based Ingredients R&D Director, Unilever F&R. “They have a significant part to play in food system transformation. We are very much looking forward to working with Algenuity to explore the possibilities of making foods that contain microalgae more mainstream.”
“We are delighted to partner with Unilever on this,” said Andrew Spicer, CEO and Founder of Algenuity. “Our Chlorella Colours® platform provides plant-based ingredients that are sustainable, natural, non-GM and protein-rich with neutral flavors. They are also vegan-friendly, making them extremely relevant for today’s growing consumer appetite for more plant-based foods with additional functional benefits.”
Manfred Aben, VP Science & Technology R&D and Site Leader of Hive, Unilever’s Global Foods Innovation Centre added, “We are very excited about the huge potential working with Algenuity brings to advance nutritious foods that taste great and are a force for good. Transitioning to a sustainable food system requires all of us to work together. It’s one of the world’s greatest challenges and will not happen without partnerships and collaborations. This is what our Hive ecosystem is all about. We are delighted to welcome Algenuity to our community.”
Plant-based products now make up around a third of Unilever’s portfolio, including dairy-free and vegan options such as Hellmann’s Vegan, Magnum Vegan and Vegetarian Butcher products. In 2019, Unilever’s Knorr brand partnered with WWF UK to publish the Future 50 Foods report, which promotes three important dietary shifts and aims to inspire greater variety in what we cook and eat. The latest report by ethical investor network FAIRR, released on 27 July 2020, ranked Unilever as the best-scoring food manufacturer in an annual survey of the top 25 global food retailers and manufacturers shifting towards more sustainable protein products.