(DGIwire) – Consumers are trying to add more plants into their diets. According to market research firm 1010data, plant-based protein powder made up 78 percent of all online “plant-based” sales in the 52 weeks ending July 2017. Additionally, reports Nutra Ingredients USA, searches for “plant-based” in online retail platforms tripled from March 2016 to July 2017. This is a result of increasing mindfulness among consumers regarding the products they consume, 1010data reports.
At trade shows, manufacturers are taking note: while pea protein has skyrocketed into the poster child of plant proteins, pushing soy off its throne, manufacturers are now looking at novel sources to differentiate themselves in the crowded space, says Nutra Ingredients USA.
“One of the most promising contenders in this space is algae,” says Andrew Dahl, President and CEO of ZIVO Bioscience, a biotech/agtech R&D company engaged in the commercialization of nutritional and medicinal products derived from proprietary algal strains. “There are more than 72,000 species of algae known, and a very few have been cultivated as food over the last few centuries. What’s both daunting and exciting is that every species seems to have its own possibilities as a new micronutrient or source of protein.”
An algae culture can be produced—and its nutritive components can be extracted— for use in foods and beverages that support human health. Studies have suggested there are substantial benefits from incorporating algae-based products into dietary supplements, foods and beverages. For example, ZIVO’s proprietary algal culture extracts have shown in preclinical research to be beneficial in supporting a healthy cholesterol balance and immune response, along with other studies to assess additional benefits.
The company’s algal strain can be spray-dried, belt-dried, drum-dried or freeze-dried depending on a product’s formulation requirement, ranging from a fine powder for better mixing properties to a flaked form that looks and blends like pesto, parsley flakes or dried seaweed. Once approved for use, the algal biomass can be grown by contracted cultivators and shipped to licensed drying facilities. From there, it would be shipped to formulators, for use as a protein-enhancing food ingredient, a dietary supplement or a vegan beverage ingredient.
In addition to a digestible protein, ZIVO’s algal strain may also offer a very significant fiber component, as well as natural, bioavailable vitamins A and C, non-starch polysaccharides and other micronutrients.
“As consumers look for alternate ingredients that are functional and have enhanced benefits, we believe that smart algae cultivating can play a major role,” Dahl adds.