Yemoja, Ltd., a marine ingredient start-up in Tel Hai, Israel, has developed a red microalgae formulation that mimics the red juices of medium-rare plant-based burgers and steaks. Branded Ounje, meaning “Food” in the Yoruba language, Yemoja’s patented microalgal heme substitute also browns up convincingly when put to the sizzle.
The deep red algae are grown indoors in high precision, photobioreactors and exhibit potential as a natural, clean, and 100% plant-sourced heme substitute to serve the cultured meats and plant-based alternative meat sectors.
The company discovered that this marine ingredient, when combined with other derivatives from this same Porphyridium strain of algae, can provide a nutrient packed medium for rendering the sensory characteristics of juicy meats. “While working on a new formulation for cosmetic applications, we serendipitously discovered that this specific composition yields a substance that resembles blood in appearance and texture,” said Amikam Bar-Gil, PhD, co-founder and CTO of Yemoja. “Encouraged by the first test results, we decided to take it to the next level, trying it out in test products. The results were an immediate proof of concept.”
Yemoja produces its algae heme substitute via a cold process in its GMP-certified facility without using any organic solvents. “We believe our algae can imbue cultured meat-cells with a nutrient-rich media to feed on. We are currently assessing its potential to act as a suitable biomaterial scaffold on which the cells can grow. This structure will allow it to mimic the behavior of meat, especially when it hits the skillet,” says Dr. Bar-Gil. “The ingredient can make up to 10% of the end product.”
“The demand for clean, naturally sourced alternative proteins that can dually exert a less harmful impact on the environment is an internationally sought venture,” said Erez Ashkenazi, co-founder and CEO of Yemoja. “Our advanced patented cultivation system offers a high-value, yet cost-effective, solution that can be easily scaled up to the unique needs of the various alt protein/meat producers and help bolster this rapidly growing category.”
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