French biomarine ingredients specialist Algaia has completed a €2.2m investment round to continue fuelling its double-digit growth.
A key element of future projected growth is likely to be a new range of seaweed-based texturing solutions named VegAlg, which are designed to contribute shape and structure, and add juiciness to plant-based burgers. Also included is a new range of alginates for processed cheese in cordon bleu.
Over the past three years, a total of €7 million has been invested in the Algaia manufacturing facility in Lannilis, Britany, France, with another €1 million at its R&D facility in Saint-Lô, Normandy. An industrial pilot production line was inaugurated in the Saint-Lô site in 2019.
“Sales grew dramatically across a range of segments, and we recorded even higher demand in vegan applications”
“In 2019, Algaia recorded a 17% sales growth, plus an additional 25% sales growth over the first four months of 2020,” says Frederic Faure, business development director for Algaia. “We grew at a double-digit rate in nutrition and cosmetic business activity, and experienced triple-digit growth in active ingredients used in plant care. Sales grew dramatically across a range of segments, and we recorded even higher demand in vegan applications where a series of new seaweed-based products, developed under the VegAlg umbrella, was recently launched. Moreover, the Covid-19 breakout is creating a paradigm shift toward even more traceable, secured food solutions that are in line with our new seaweed portfolio and long-term sustainability strategy.” Faure notes that 30% of Algaia’s sales is coming from new products.
New line for plant-based meat applications
Creating plant-based meat products is technically challenging since it is hard to mimic the taste, structure, and texture of real meat. The new Algogel MVA series is specifically designed for meat analogues. It can replace cellulosic products traditionally used for structure in vegetable protein products. Alginates improves the interaction between the protein, lipid, and water components of the food system. Algogel works by naturally helping these components form a stable structure, which leads to enhanced texture and flavor resulting in a juicy veggie burger that consumers crave.
‘Reinventing cordon bleu’
Another new line from Algaia is its alginate-based Satialgine DVA series, often used in combination with carrageenans extracted from fresh Chilean seaweed. Launched at Fi Europe 2019, it was designed to improve the functionality of cheese in cordon bleu dishes of meat rolled around cheese filling, then breaded and fried. “A prepared meal like cordon bleu has been particularly popular during the Covid-19 crisis when people were cooking at home. Cordon bleu is a very convenient dish, highly appreciated by both adults and kids,” explains Fabien Canivet, Application manager of Algaia. “Our new portfolio increases the cheese shelf life, adds enhanced meltability and resistance to separation during the cook phase, allowing for a uniform look and feel. It also reduces the tendency for tiny fat globules in the cheese to coalesce and pool on the surface. The structural functionality improves sliceability as well as thermostability. Satialgine can be applied to other dairy applications as well.”
To ensure a constant fresh local and renewable supply of seaweed biomass, Algaia works with local fishermen to harvest brown algae just a few kilometers from its plant in Brittany, France. The company is committed to full control over its supply and ensuring that its customers receive sustainable, high-quality, plant-based products. “We can already see a shift toward sustainable products like seaweed extracts as consumers seek more sustainable, locally sourced ingredients,” says Faure. “They want suppliers they can trust and who have been able to come forward and maintain reliability during this unique situation.”