Many of you may have seen the United Nations report that the global population will reach 8 billion by the end of November 2022; by 2050, it is expected to reach 9.7 billion. This population growth will require livestock animals as a source of animal protein and a large amount of grains to feed them, and it is predicted that a “protein crisis” will occur around 2030, when the balance between protein acceptance and supply will be disrupted.

Microalgae are in the spotlight as a solution to the protein crisis, with a number of start-ups and major companies entering the plant-based food industry. Microalgae, also known as phytoplankton, are said to be the key to a sustainable society and are expected to be a new environmentally friendly food field that does not require the slaughter of livestock animals.

Two companies at the forefront of microalgae protein research and product development, “Sophie’s Bionutrients” and “NewFish”, have announced that they will partner in September 2022.

Sophie’s Bionutrients is a startup operating in Singapore and the Netherlands. The company has developed the world’s first 100% plant-based alternative protein powder made from microalgae in 2021. This alternative protein powder can be used as an ingredient in dairy products and other new foods. In addition to microalgae, the powder is made by upcycling grain lees from breweries, bean curd from tofu makers, and molasses from sugar mills.

Based on its alternative protein powder, the company developed the world’s first microalgae-based alternative milk in May 2021, and in November successfully developed microalgae-based alternative cheddar cheese in collaboration with the “Ingredion Idea Labs Innovation Center” in Singapore. In the future, the company plans to work on developing sustainable plant-based meat and seafood alternative proteins, yogurt, and various other dairy products.

NewFish, on the other hand, specializes in the fermentation, production, R&D, and manufacturing of microalgae-derived fish and proteins, and works closely with the “Cawthron Institute”, a leading marine science institution, and engineering institutions in New Zealand. In the future, the two companies will overcome the challenges of obtaining microalgae strains and expanding production capacity with the support of other research institutions and others. They will cooperate to provide affordable microalgae food products and work on the development of new microalgae-derived food products.

The alternative foods market continues to grow due to increasing consumer health awareness and changing lifestyles. According to a study by “Global Information,Inc.”, an information and telecommunications company, the market size of dairy substitutes is projected to reach US$40.6 billion by 2026, up from US$22.6 billion in 2020.

Seaweeds such as wakame and kelp, which are algae that live in the sea, are familiar foods in Japan, but in many countries outside of Asia, seaweed has not been considered a foodstuff, and in some regions it was considered “garbage” floating on the shore. Recently, however, seaweed has been attracting attention as a sustainable superfood, as evidenced by the legalization of kelp farming in New York City in June 2021, and various food tech companies are promoting the development of seaweed-based food ingredients. In response to the ever-increasing world population and food shortages, it is expected to see how sustainable foods made from microalgae will contribute to the food supply.

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[Reference Site] CISION PR Newswire, Food Pioneers Sophie’s Bionutrients And NewFish Join Forces To Develop Dairy Alternatives From Microalgae
[Reference Site] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Population Prospects 2022
[Reference site] SUNATEC, Food Analysis and Development Center of Japan, The Role and Challenges of Aquaculture in the Supply of Seafood in the Future
[Reference Site] Global Information Corporation, Dairy Substitutes Market Size Forecast to Reach US$40.6 Billion by 2026
[Reference site] NewFish homepage
[Reference site] Sophie’s Nutrients homepage
[Reference Site] Microalgae Milk Pioneer Sophie’s Bionutrients Moves to Europe’s Alt-protein Hotspot

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