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Solazyme expands algae oil JV with Bunge to develop 'breakthrough'' products for food and animal nutrition

By Elaine Watson+

30-Oct-2015
Last updated on 30-Oct-2015 at 19:54 GMT2015-10-30T19:54:37Z

Solazyme expands algae oils JV with Bunge

San Francisco-based microalgae pioneer Solazyme has expand its joint venture with oils expert Bunge to develop a “range of breakthrough oils for food and products for animal nutrition”.

The partners, who have been working together since 2010, will manufacture their wares in São Paulo state, Brazil (in a plant adjacent to Bunge’s Moema sugarcane mill), said Solazyme: "The expansion adds an additional focus on food and as part of the agreement, Bunge's global food team will take a leadership role in the sales, marketing and application development for certain food oils. In addition, Bunge will provide oil processing, global distribution and logistics, while Solazyme will be committing certain expertise in food related technology.

"Further, the partners also entered a separate agreement to expand their co-funded research programs to include new unique products in nutrition and specialty fats."

The three products in the initial line up - which are claimed to have “one of the lowest carbon and water footprints of any broadly available vegetable oils and achieve substantially higher oil yields per acre than those of most oilseed crops” - are: 

  • AlgaWise Ultra Omega-9 algae oil: A clean tasting oil claimed to have the highest level of monounsaturated fats (>90%) on the market and the lowest level of saturated fat of any food oil (<4%), says Solazyme. "This oil is ideal for meeting market demand for healthier alternatives to saturated fat oils, providing shelf-life stability and excellent culinary performance with one of the highest smoke points available."
  • AlgaWise high stability algae oil: A high stability oil with zero trans fat, over 87% monounsaturated and 2% polyunsaturates, claimed to deliver “unprecedented oxidative stability”. Designed for industrial frying, spraying/coating, pan spraying and blending, it can also enable manufacturers to remove added preservatives in foods such as dressings and mayonnaise, says Solazyme.
  • AlgaWise algae butter: Designed for confectionery, bakery, spreads and other applications, the ‘algae butter’ mirrors structuring fats such as shea stearin, with a high proportion of stearic-oleic-stearic triglycerides (~70%) and should be available in the US in 2016.

We believe Thrive algae oil has strong adoption potential for cooking, baking and dressing applications

The company, which posted a net loss of $34.9m in the third quarter on revenues of $11.4m, said: 

Solazyme recently launched its first consumer food product:Thrive culinary algae oil

"We are seeing customers transition from the development stage and begin to introduce our ingredients commercially. We also recently introduced Thrive algae oil, a consumer focused culinary oil that delivers oil characteristics superior to competing oils, such as canola oil, olive oil and coconut oil. Initial feedback from consumers has been very positive, and we believe Thrive algae oil has strong adoption potential for cooking, baking and dressing applications."

Speaking to analysts on Friday, CEO Jonathan Wolfson added: "Our food ingredients are now in products across 10 categories across the grocery store [customers include Soylent, Enjoy Life Foods and Califia Farms]. We have over 120 application projects today." And these are in "mainstream foods and beverages" as well as more niche categories, he stressed.

Disruptive technology

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Solazyme booth at the IFT show in Chicago this summer , Solazyme SVP Mark Brooks said that most cooking oils come from crops that are planted on vast tracts of agricultural land (and in the case of palm oil, sometimes in places that might be better left alone, like rainforests), fed and watered, and then harvested months later.

By contrast, Solazyme’s algae oil is produced from algae grown in big fermentation tanks and is ready to harvest in days, meaning it can effectively be made to order – a completely novel concept in the edible oils market, he said.

It’s truly revolutionary, that we can take what is a normal crop cycle and compress that into three days. We can dislocate the production of that oil from a tropical climate to the middle of Iowa in winter [where Solazyme’s algal oils are produced] and make an oil that is more nutritious and more stable.”

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