Wageningen, Netherlands—Unilever and Algenuity are partnering to explore the potential of microalgae protein, according to a press release. Algenuity specializes in developing microalgae for use in consumer products, and will work with Unilever’s R&D team in the Foods and Refreshment division to explore ways of bringing microalgae-based foods to market.

The press release notes that by 2050, the world will need to produce 70% more food to feed a population of 10 billion people. Food will need to meet a high nutritional standard, while having a low environmental impact.Chlorella vulgaris, a microalgae, is a plant-based source of protein and fiber with a low environmental footprint. It also provides nutrients including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. The issue, according to the press release, is that its high chlorophyll content gives it a bitter taste and smell, preventing its inclusion in mainstream diets.

Algenuity has developed Chlorella Colours, which significantly reduces the chlorophyll content of microalgae without reducing the nutrient levels, the press release says. This presents the opportunity for plant-based protein that tastes good.
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“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, in the press release. “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.”

Andrew Spicer, CEO and Founder of Algenuity, adds: “We are delighted to partner with Unilever on this. 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.”

“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,” concludes Manfred Aben, VP Science & Technology R&D and Site Leader of Hive, Unilever’s Global Foods Innovation Center, in Wageningen. “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.”