Sophie's Bionutrients, a next-generation sustainable urban food production technology company, is shaping the future of food with high moisture extrusion (HME) technology and microalgae fermentation. This process is a revolutionary development in the plant-based protein industry. It offers a commercially viable alternative to cell-based meat production methods still in the early stages of development.
Cell-cultured meat has been heralded around the globe as a potential alternative to conventional meat. However, the technology behind this process is relatively new, and there are still many unknowns that need to be answered before cell-based meats can be produced on an industrial scale. Cell-based meat production is also costly for consumers, with prices above the recommended $7 per kg needed to reach price parity with conventional meats.
Amidst the uncertainty surrounding cell-based options and growing demand for alt-meat, microalgae fermentation is an exciting new prospect for food manufacturers and businesses seeking to create a more sustainable food supply chain — and it's available now.
Over the past decade, plant-based alternatives have historically been texturized vegetable proteins (TVP), which require high-viscosity protein flour like Soy to work efficiently. Previously, no other material has come close to the flexibility of soy flour. As a result, Soy has become the dominant protein in vegetarian and vegan foods on today's market. However, Sophie's Bionutrients has unlocked the recipe for a better plant-based alternative for consumers, companies and the environment using a breakthrough combination of HME processing and microalgae fermentation.
HME processing works by altering protein structures into soluble and insoluble aggregates. Unlike TVP, HME technologies are more flexible and enable food manufacturers to use a larger spectrum of ingredients to create plant-based meat and seafood textures, such as microalgae.
Known as the "mother of all life", microalgae is one of the most nutrient-rich resources on the planet and can contain up to 70% protein, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids, beta-carotene and an abundance of vitamins. Moreover, microalgae rank among the world's fastest-growing organisms. Some species can double their volume in six hours and can be grown almost anywhere with a low carbon footprint. Its sustainability and versatility mean that microalgae offer unlimited opportunities for natural zero-meat products that are environmentally friendly, quick to manufacture, and highly cost-effective.
A pioneer in microalgae, Sophie's Bionutrients has already harnessed this superfood for dairy-free cheese, dairy-free milk, and plant-based burger patties. It has now become the first company globally to apply HME processing to microalgae protein production on a commercial scale with its new plant-based chicken nuggets, as well as the first worldwide to produce an HME meat that has more than 60% microalgae protein content.