The announcement follows a recent deal with Foodbuy, the specialty purchasing division at Compass Group, appointing TerraVia as a preferred food oil provider to restaurants and foodservice operators supplied by Compass across the US, said San Francisco-based TerraVia.
“Since Compass and Foodbuy work with major distributors like Sysco, the partnership is expected to give Thrive Algae Oil a presence in warehouses across the country and significantly expand distribution by making it available to restaurants, hotels and other food service operations across the US.”
CEO Apu Mody told FoodNavigator-USA: "The adoption by Bon Appétit is a true milestone. It’s an absolute honor to receive this affirmation of the sustainability and nutrition benefits of algae oil from a company recognized for combining culinary excellence with industry leading sustainable food sourcing.
"The broader agreement with Foodbuy provides TerraVia with the opportunity to build upon this foundational adoption by Bon Appétit, and partner with more of the Compass foodservice sectors across the US."
Thrive algae oil is currently available nationally via Amazon.com and thrivealgae.com, and in bricks & mortar stores throughout California and in select Pacific Northwest retailers including Mollie Stones, Gelson’s Market, Raley’s Supermarkets, Draeger’s Supermarkets, and Haggen.
75% less saturated fat than olive oil, unprecedented levels of monounsaturated fat, zero trans fat
Thrive has 75% less saturated fat than olive oil, high levels of healthy monounsaturated fat, and zero trans fat, according to TerraVia, which has also developed blends of algae and canola oil for high-volume foodservice customers.
While the nutritionals are appealing, however, it has also proved popular with chefs because it has a clean taste and an unusually high smoke point, making it suitable for every type of cooking, including sautéing, frying, baking, dressings and more, said Mody, who joined TerraVia in August 2016.
"We are confident in the growth potential for Thrive Algae Oil in the foodservice market in tandem with expanding retail distribution.
"Since the initial retail launch of Thrive in Los Angeles in 2015, we've seen incredible enthusiasm and interest from the restaurant community in adopting the oil at foodservice. With the open dialogue and active engagement between restaurant chefs and consumers, we expect to see increasing synergies between these two channels as both seek the best in taste and nutrition, sustainably."
Most cooking oils come from crops that are planted on agricultural land, fed and watered, and then harvested months later. By contrast, TerraVia's algae oil is produced from algae grown in 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, says the company.
The oils are produced from an oil-generating algae strain (originally discovered in the sap of chestnut tree in Germany) that has been genetically engineered to increase its productivity.
We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us
He would not provide details of how many finished products in the marketplace are currently using TerraVia's Algavia and Algawise algae-based ingredients, or how many projects are in the pipeline, but said TerraVia "continues to see adoption of algae as a food ingredient by industry leaders, in addition to broad consumer acceptance as demonstrated by the success of Thrive Culinary Algae Oil at retail."
Speaking to analysts in November 2016 as TerraVia posted a $20m net loss on revenues of $4.3m in the three months to September 30, Mody said he remained confident in the long-term potential of algae-based food and feed ingredients given the “massive move to plant-based nutrition as a cornerstone of healthy eating.”
He added: “I believe strongly that we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us… Historically, food companies first look to improve the nutritional value of their foods simply by removing the ingredients that aren’t good for you. What’s changing today is that innovative companies like TerraVia are coming to market with ingredients that can add positives ....
“Our ingredients make it easier for food manufacturers to formulate products that are better for you without sacrificing taste or texture. I believe the value we offer food companies is enormous. The ingredient is taste great. They enable healthier products. They’re made sustainably. And because they are free of known allergens, they can simplify labeling and manufacturing.”
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