The algae is chlamydomonas reinhardtii (strain thn 6), and is produced in the form of dried biomass powder.
This approval comes one year after the San Diego-based firm was in talks with SFA. The algae is also granted a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status from the US FDA.
Miller Tran, the firm’s vice president for R&D told FoodNavigator-Asia that there was a growing demand for healthy, nutritious and affordable food products in Singapore.
He said: “Singapore has been ahead of the curve for some time, in terms of thinking about and working to implement smarter and more sustainable means of healthy food production, as we’ve seen in previous meetings and discussions with both government and industry officials.”
David Schroeder, the firm’s director of corporate & regulatory affairs added: “Singapore has looked at food security, novel foods, future foods, in terms of how to feed the country moving forward, and improve nutritious benefits, so there is great validation for us as a marker.”
The firm said Singapore was a critical platform for establishing a broader footprint in the region.
Schroeder told us they were receiving interest from food companies who were interested in alternative sources of protein, to either help fortify existing food products or enhance new products.
Schroeder added: “What is exciting about this algae is that it is a brand new food ingredient, that has never been in the food chain due to several reasons.”
Tran said algae had been studied for over 70 years, but it was never carried in products in the supply chain, “because no one had developed a means to scale up production of algae.”
The algae is grown in the laboratory under fermentation conditions, which has its advantages, “(you can) grow your algae 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you don’t need to worry about the external conditions like the weather, soil etc,” added Tran.
For a place that lacks agricultural land like Singapore, algae can be grown in large fermentation tanks to produce and provide better food security.
Using a closed fermentation system also meant that its production footprint and resource inputs were minimal, in comparison to traditional agriculture production.
Schroeder stressed that the world population would hit 10 billion by 2050, and there were not enough means of traditional production of food and protein to meet that demand.
“We are excited not just from a business standpoint, but from a global sustainability standpoint.”
The firm’s algae ingredient is non-GMO, rich in protein, beta carotene (Vitamin A), iron, and Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, and features a complete amino acid profile.
“We can produce it in four different colours now, red, green, yellow and white,” Schroeder said, which translated to a broad range of potential applications in foods.
Schroeder said the algae ingredient could be easily adapted into a variety of foods, ranging from energy bars, pastas, cookies, and ice cream.
In Asia, they would incorporate well into noodles.
According to the firm, the algae can improve nutritional profile, without affecting flavour and taste.
The firm is currently in discussion with several Asia-based food companies. Tran said it was in the process of scaling up production, with products likely to be released in 2020.
The firm has a pilot facility in San Diego, but does not have production facilities or distribution arrangements locally in Singapore.