Microalgae are gaining traction as a natural, plant-based, and sustainable superfood. However, industry stakeholders caution that it will take some time to fully integrate these ingredients into mainstream human consumption. The industry faces challenges such as a lack of quality standardization and unfair competition from other protein sources, particularly soy.
While there are between 200,000 and 800,000 different microalgae species, only a small number are commercially available. Spirulina, chlorella, and tetraselmis are among the microalgae species being tapped as food sources for protein, iron, B vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Chlorella, in particular, is known for its vitamin B12 content, which is essential for vegan and vegetarian consumers.
Microalgae also have the potential to provide the necessary nutrition for plant-based alternatives. For example, SimpliiGood is using spirulina in its smoked salmon analog, which is composed of 100% minimally processed spirulina. Tetraselmis, on the other hand, shows great potential for plant-based renditions of sea creatures.
However, the lack of proper standardization and scale are major barriers to mass consumption of microalgae. Industry insiders emphasize the need for establishing these standards to overcome the challenges of unfair competition with traditional products, ingredients, and raw materials.