Five minutes at FI Europe with …
Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech: What Innovations are you presenting at FIE 2017
Mark Ahern: One of our core messages is based around functional, clean label ingredients and proteins; the newest addition to our portfolio is the AlgaVia range of Protein rich and Lipid rich whole algae. These products are the culmination of 10 years research involving the analysis of thousands of strains of algae.
AF: What are the benefits?
MA: All the products are on trend as they are clean label, gluten free, suitable for vegan diets and free of known allergens.
The protein rich whole algae has a protein content of 63%; it is naturally encapsulated therefore has limited interactions with other ingredients, is stable in low pH applications and does not impact viscosity unlike other protein sources. In addition, the protein has a slight nutty flavour and has a high glutamic content enhancing the umami sensation of the final product, potentially supporting a reduction in salt or added flavours.
The lipid rich whole algae is rich in unsaturated fats (69% monounsaturated, 13% polyunsaturated), cholesterol free as well as containing 19% fibre. There are two lipid rich products available, one golden coloured, the other cream, giving them applications across the food market. These products are ideal for reducing / replacing dairy fats, oils and eggs supporting fat, cholesterol and calorie reduction whilst maintaining the indulgence expected of the original product with a clean label declaration.
AF: All with clean processing?
MA: The production process for the AlgaVia products is via a simple closed fermentation process where the strain of algae is fed with a non-GM sugar source and fermented over a period time determined by the product being made. When the products are ready, the native algae cells are
washed, dried and milled. It is the closed fermentation process which creates the differentiation between AlgaVia and other algae products currently available. These are typically green in colour with a noticeable impact on flavour, whereas Algavia products are golden or cream providing a neutral or positive impact on flavour.
AF: Is it an answer to the rise in demand for vegan protein?
MA: AlgaVia protein is certainly an option for the vegan market however to meet the needs of both producers and consumers in terms of functionality and flavour, it is necessary to consider a wider protein strategy. Proteins provide functionality such as emulsification, gelling and viscosity but can be impaired by flavour challenges which negatively impact the final product. Also, the demands for high protein content can have an adverse impact on texture, dependent upon the protein used. Lastly, consideration has to be given to allergen concerns and potential GM issues associated with some proteins. Due to the limitations highlighted it is becoming more evident that combining different proteins based on functionality, texture and taste will provide the optimum solution; AlgaVia protein is a perfect fit as part of the overall solution.
AF: What other customer trends drive your offer?
MA: Clean label continues to be the largest demand of the consumer; the challenge is understanding what clean label actually means to consumers and producers in the different markets around Europe. To some it means “No artificial colours and flavours” to others it means “No E-Numbers” yet to others it can mean “Kitchen cupboard ingredients” or even “organic”. Clean label requirements in Western
Europe are well established across all market sectors; whereas, in Eastern Europe it is a growing movement driven by export business to Western Europe as well as increasing home market pressure.
AF: Do you think Eastern Europe is going to harmonise with the West? What about emerging markets?
MA: The expectations of people in Eastern Europe and in the emerging markets of the Middle East and Africa are ever increasing in their demand for higher quality convenience food products that they see in Western Europe and US. As the level of available income increases, the pressure to produce these products in local markets will also develop offering ingredient producers and suppliers exciting new market places.
AF: What can we expect from Univar in 2018?
MA: In addition to the AlgaVia products, Univar has recently added a range of functional flours to our clean label portfolio based on rice and tapioca. These offer the same performance that consumers have come to expect from our clean label starches, yet support new textural and flavour delivery opportunities with a consumer preferred label declaration of “flour”.