Microalgae is attracting increased attention as a sustainable protein for the food industry. The unicellular photosynthetic microorganisms are made up of 50-60% protein, have a full amino-acid profile, and according to Israeli start-up Brevel, boast ‘huge functionality diversity’.
The company believes microalgae is poised to become ‘ubiquitous throughout the whole food system’, and today (26 October) is announcing a new collaboration within the plant-based cheese category to bring its microalgae protein to the masses.
Overcoming taste and protein hurdles
According to the collaboration, Brevel will supply its microalgae-based protein to vegan food manufacturer Vgarden, who in turn will develop plant-based cheese incorporating the protein. First products are expected to reach shelves in 2023.
Together, Brevel and Vgarden will tackle ‘one of the biggest challenges’ of the plant-based cheese market: plant-based protein’s impact on taste.
Brevel’s microalgae protein ingredient is neutral in flavour and colour, and is priced within the same bracket as pea and soy proteins. “Brevel’s protein solves the immediate challenges in plant-based products that need neutral flavoured protein sources alongside a valuable nutritional profile,” noted the start-up.
Vgarden already boasts plant-based cheeses, meat and fish products in its portfolio, and the latter two are high in protein. But producing vegan cheese substitutes with a high protein content – all the while with ‘a perfect blend’ of taste, texture, and appearance – is more challenging.
“It has been a great experience working with the talented team at Brevel, whose truly unique microalgae protein ingredient will serve as a possible foundation for our future cheese offerings,” said Vgarden CEO Ilan Adut.
Leveraging patented tech for international rollout
Brevel has developed automated, industrial scale indoor reactors to ‘unlock the full potential’ of microalgae. Its patented technology combines an ‘advanced’ fermentation process with a high concentration of internal illumination.
According to the start-up, its fermentation technology results in ‘high and consistent yields’, while the addition of light enables photosynthesis to produce its microalgae-based ingredients.
“We fully and precisely control every biological aspect: temperature, pH, oxygen levels, light spectrum and more, to achieve optimal growing conditions.”
Brevel said it was ‘excited’ that Vgarden will be the first to incorporate its protein in their cheese products. “We are confident that this will be a true revolution for vegan and flexitarian cheese eaters worldwide,” said Brevel CEO and co-founder Yonatan Golan.
Vgarden will manufacture Brevel-enriched cheeses in its factory in Northern Israel, before introducing the new cheeses to Australia, the US, the UK, and Western Europe next year.