Today’s consumers are looking for food that not only tastes great but is good for them as well. It seems that new superfood-infused products hit the shelves every year, and companies’ bottom lines can benefit from these natural nutritional ingredients. Microalgae, being packed with protein, ascorbic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, may be the next big consumer trend.
Food menus are already exhibiting choices that are enhanced with this nutritionally packed, single-celled organism. A lot of food and beverage labels contain this ingredient in order to make their nutritional profiles more appealing to today’s health conscious consumers. The market for all microalgae products was previously estimated to be worth around $1.38 billion in 2015.
Amongst the most popular uses for this ingredient is microalgae oil, but food companies are increasingly using microalgae to add nutritional value and decrease the calories in their products. According to a recent report by Credence Research, the global market for this microorganism is forecasted to reach $44.7 billion by 2023.
“With accelerating consumer interest in healthier eating, people like to talk about the hottest new superfood, but it all starts with algae,” Jonathan Wolfson, executive chairman of algae food products company TerraVia, told Food Business News. “Before there were foods like chia, acai, kale or quinoa, there was algae. Nothing can be more heirloom, more ancient or more original.”
Well-known food manufacturers are already incorporating microalgae into their products. Mondelez’s Enjoy Life Foods use it in their brownie and other baking mixes in place of soy, peanuts or eggs. Dean Foods’ Horizon Organics milk products have omega-3s in the form of algae oil. Mars is also considering using algae-derived colors for some of its products.
“Algae is the most sustainable protein available on Earth,” Joel Warady, chief marketing officer for Enjoy Life Foods, told Food Dive. We added it “into a line of baking mixes. We’re still providing an indulgent dessert, but marrying functionality into this indulgence. We look at that as true innovation.”
Microalgae can be converted into powder, oil, butter and flour. It can also replace traditional baking ingredients such as dairy fats, vegetable fats and egg yolks, resulting in lower saturated fat, calories and cholesterol in products. Microalgae is proving to be an ingredient with great nutritional value and sales potential in today’s health-focused market.