Algae-Based Ice Cream, A Sustainable Frozen Treat

Food tech company Sophie's BioNutrient has launched an algae-based ice cream
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Food tech company Sophie’s BioNutrient has launched an algae-based ice cream. Image: Pixabay

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Algae-based ice cream, a sustainable frozen treat.

With the worry about climate change and the shift towards more sustainable diets, Algae-based ice cream, we’ve seen a lot of changes within the food industry over the past few years, from beyond meat to a rise in non-dairy milk such as oat, almond, soy, and more. The newest trend that will be hitting the grocery store shelves near you is algae based ice cream.  

That’s right, Sophie’s BioNutrients, a food tech company developing 100% plant-based and sustainable alternative protein for the industry, is now developing a vegan ice cream made from chlorella protein. Chlorella protein is a pure protein flour that is made from microalgae. The company partnered with the Danish Technological Institute to make this algae-based ice cream.  

Making the chlorella protein involves naturally cultivating chlorella vulgaris (a species of green microalga). The microalgae are grown using bioreactors, limited amounts of water, and local food waste (including spent grains or okara, waste from tofu makers). The chlorella is harvested within three days in a protected environment. The algae-based ice cream is developed by mixing the chlorella protein with sugar, coconut oil and other ingredients. Not only does this algae-based ice cream mimic the natural texture, but it also holds a complete nutrition profile. This algae-based ice cream is high in B12 and iron. Who knew that ice cream could be good for you? Furthermore, it can also be made into various different flavours of vegan ice cream.  

Unlike lactose ice cream, whereby dairy cows need at leave 0.7m of feed space, cultivating microalgae uses about 0.02 hectares of space. The microalgae grown by Sophie’s BioNutrients also don’t require fertilizers, herbicides, antibiotics or other products to make the protein.  Sophie’s BioNutirent is also committed to enabling a circular economy by finding a purpose for spent grains (waste from breweries) and molasses (waste from sugar refineries)

Sophie’s Bio Nutrients has also recently teamed up with NewFish, a biotech and commercialization venture that ferments New Zealand microalgae to create new sustainable foods. The two companies are working to advance microalgae protein research and product development. Together, they are working to overcome the challenges of obtaining sufficient microalgae strains and scaling production capacities. The companies hope to bring enough global supply to increase the availability of stainable foods made from microalgae.  

Besides the nutrient benefits that microalgae provide, many food companies are looking to utilize algae because of its abundance worldwide. It can be found in various environments worldwide, including salt, brackish waters, and snow. Marine algae also don’t require soil, irrigation or fertilizer; their cultivation doesn’t compete with agriculture for arable land and freshwater. Furthermore, cultivating algae doesn’t lead to fertilizer runoff. It also grows ten times faster than conventional crops. Experts say that using microalgae could potentially increase global food production by over 50%. It not only provides omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in fish, but it also has minerals and amino acids that are often missing in vegetarian diets.  

Another significant benefit of using algae to produce food is that microalgae are known as the most efficient biological sequesters of carbon dioxide. It is said that when used in bioreactors, algae is 400 times more efficient at removing CO2 from the atmosphere than a tree. The algae require carbon dioxide to grow, which provides a win-win solution for everyone.  

Thinking about algae-based ice cream may not be the most appetizing thing we can think of, but what does it matter when it’s crushed into a powder and mixed in with other ingredients? If this is the way to sustainable foods, then I think we are on the right track. I look forward to seeing the algae-based ice cream on the grocery store shelves soon.

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