Future Food Tech Alternatives Proteins

Startup Uncracked is unlocking seaweeds’ clean-label potential with proprietary SeaStack technology

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Future Food Tech

Consumers seeking clean labels historically have given a pass to plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, even though they have long lists of unfamiliar or difficult to pronounce ingredients, but that may be changing as the category’s health halo dims – prompting many players to scramble for simpler, natural ingredients, like those developed by startup Uncracked.

The food tech company is developing functional clean label solutions from seaweed to replace artificial additives, thickeners and fortifiers in plant-based foods and beverages by leveraging its proprietary SeaStack technology, company Founder and CEO Kate Sullivan told FoodNavigator-USA this month at Future Food Tech Alternative Proteins in Chicago.

She explained that Uncracked’s SeaStack technology is a platform that classifies seaweeds by their biochemical and physiological composition and their functional properties and how they interact in systems, formulas and with each other.

Using this data, Uncracked is creating three initial ingredients: an emulsifier, a protein binder and a fortifier, but Sullivan says she hopes to collect data on all seaweeds and pave a path for additional ingredient innovation.

Sullivan explains that her startup gravitated to seaweed as the base for a range of clean-label ingredients because it is “one of the most nutrient dense foods on our planet,” and is one of the few plants that contains all essential amino acids, high levels of fiber, omega-three fatty acids and many essential vitamins and minerals.

She says she was also attracted to seaweed’s sustainability.

“Seaweed requires no land to be grown on as it grows in the ocean, and it sequesters carbon while restoring oxygen back into our environment. So not only does it not deplete any of our land resources, but it restores our oceans,” she said.

‘People are really starting to care about what they are using in their bodies’

While Sullivan sees many uses for her SeaStack technology and ingredients across industries, she says she wanted to start in food and beverage after she experienced first-hand the struggle of finding clean-label ingredients for use in plant-based products.

While at Berkeley, Sullivan and a team of students with whom she took a course on alt-meat, competed and won Berkeley’s Collider Cup XII technology and startup pitch event, where they showcased a plant-based crab meat they created.

“We wanted to start in food and beverage [because] that is really where we personally have felt the problems that we are addressing. We were first setting out to create our own alternative protein products when we could not avoid using artificially derived additives or flavor maskers. So, we turned to seaweed and the natural capabilities of that plant,” Sullivan said.

Looking forward, she sees a logical expansion for SeaStack technology in animal feed and cosmetics.

“The clean trend is not limited to just food. People are really starting to care about what they are using in their bodies,” she said.

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