An algae-based flour targeted at fat reduction in foods, the first product to emerge from a joint venture between French food ingredients giant Roquette and Californian microalgae expert Solazyme, has just been released onto the European market.
The whole algalin flour - a pale yellow powder - contains 50% lipids plus a mixture of protein, soluble and insoluble fibre, and can be used to partially or fully replace anything that was a source of fat, from egg yolk to butter or vegetable, said the two companies.
A spokesperson for Roquette told FoodNavigator.com that Europe along with the US are the target markets for the first production phase of the algalin flour.
She said that in the US, Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals (SRN) is selling direct or via its own distribution network while Roquette has the exclusive rights for the sale of the products produced by SRN in Europe.
The flour ingredient, claims the JV, can improve the nutritional profiles in a multitude of applications, including bakery, plant-based beverages or frozen desserts in that it is low in saturated fats and provides fibre and protein while allowing a calorie reduction and equivalent mouthfeel as a full-fat food or beverage.
Product launches by end of 2012
“We hope to see products formulated with the Whole Algalin Flour before the end of this year,” added the spokesperson.
In terms of bakery applications, she said, the flour offers an alternative to traditional lipids allowing formulators to manufacture baked goods with less fat and/or less egg/egg yolk.
“It improves texture and moisture retention in baked goods and offers various textural options for cookies, for example,” continued the spokesperson, adding that the algae flour also performs well in cakes, gluten-free baked goods, and crackers.
French production base
Earlier this year, Roquette started to produce the microalgae-derived flour in Lestrem, France, where the manufacturing hub of the joint venture is based, with phase one of production there enabling a site capacity of 300 metric tonnes (mt).
Phase two of production will massively enhance the tonnage output at the site - 5,000 mt capacity - for the microalgae-derived ingredient - but this won’t get underway until the start of 2013, confirmed the spokesperson.
The joint venture (JV), which was formed in November 2010, is also intent on supplying both regions with specialized algae-derived proteins, fibres and oils. However, the Roquette representative was unavailable to confirm a release date on those.
The two firms claim that technical benefits notwithstanding, algae-based ingredients are also appealing to customers and end consumers because they are non-allergenic and renewable.
The two companies found they were able to move faster than they had originally anticipated in Europe because there was no need to go through the Novel Food Regulation.
In the US, Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals products have the self-asserted GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status on the basis of scientific studies that prove that the product is harmless. An application will shortly be made to obtain the FDA approved GRAS status, said the two firms.