IFF is teaming up with Israeli food-tech start-up SimpliiGood by Algaecore Technologies to develop the first commercial smoked salmon analogue made from a single ingredient: whole fresh spirulina. The company is climate protection-oriented, growing its spirulina in the desert under controlled, ideal conditions.
Single-ingredient, algae-based product
The plant-based salmon-like cut is crafted to take on the appearance, colour, texture, and flavor of smoked salmon, yet without the ocean pollutants that living fish are commonly exposed to. These include compounds such as mercury, fossil fuels, and industrial waste. Composed of 100% spirulina, it is a clean-label product and is 40% complete protein.
To advance this initiative, an agreement for strategic cooperation was signed between the Israeli Innovation Authority, SimpliiGood, and FoodNxt—the innovation lab established by IFF. SimpliiGood provides the raw material and texture and colour qualities, while IFF contributes the flavour and aroma attributes. The product is expected to hit the market by the end of 2023. In 2020, the global sales value of salmon amounted to approximately €13 billion.
SimpliiGood specialises in cultivating and harvesting the fresh blue-green algae, as well as producing a range of spirulina-centered food products. The new salmon analogue will join a series of existing spirulina-based SimpliiGood branded products marketed in Israel to food producers and directly to consumers. Its current portfolio encompasses a range of meat substitutes, including hamburgers and chicken nuggets, as well as popsicles, ice cream, crackers, and beverages where spirulina serves either as the base ingredient or as nutritional enrichment.
“Our spirulina can act as a complete replacement for animal-based protein or be easily integrated into existing food products as an added-value ingredient, as it has a neutral flavor and maintains its full nutritional value,” said Lior Shalev, CEO and co-founder of Algaecore. “This project marks an exciting milestone in our company’s product line expansion as we enter the fish substitute market.”
In the first phase, the company will focus on producing a pure, spirulina-based smoked salmon analog, with plans to expand to additional fish analogues in the future.
Spirulina is heralded as one of the most nutrient-dense plant-based forms of protein on the planet, being a naturally rich source of whole protein, plus antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins, (including B12), and minerals, especially iron. The spirulina market is relatively young and is dominated by dried and powdered forms of the ingredient. SimpliiGood cultivates and markets a specific strain of 100% raw fresh spirulina with 90% bioavailability, making it a beneficial addition to any food application.
Shalev reveals that the new, salmon-like creation is based on two IP-protected technological breakthroughs developed by the algae innovators. The first applies to its texturisation platform for forming salmon-like chunks solely from spirulina and have the same mouthfeel as the animal form. Its orange, salmon-like hue has been expressed through identifying and isolating the native beta carotene pigment naturally present in spirulina.
From greenhouse to fork, sustainably
SimpliiGood cultivates its spirulina in a system of 90m3 capacity ponds housed in greenhouses situated in the southern desert region of Israel. Of the water used in the process, 98% is recycled. The company produces 50 tons of spirulina per year, with a harvest every 24 hours, making it a highly commercially viable plant-based protein source. SimpliiGood is a vertically integrated company that controls all aspects of production, from R&D, agricultural, and processing through to commercialisation, ensuring complete sustainability and making its product line resilient and good for the planet.
“The spirulina SimpliiGood cultivates is one of the most efficient converters of sun energy into protein,” added Shalev. “Spirulina requires salt, minerals, heat, CO2, and water to thrive. The process of growing spirulina actually captures carbon and uses it to grow. The strain that the animal food industry places on the environment and food security has elevated the need to develop sustainable protein substitutes. We are excited to collaborate with these leading global food industry players to bring a tasty and highly nutritious product to consumers worldwide, without harming animals or the planet,” Shalev concluded.