Brevel Raises $8.4 Million to Scale Nutrition-Rich, Neutral-Flavored Microalgae Protein


Move over pea protein and soy, there’s a new alt-protein in town made from microalgae, and it’s cheaper and more sustainable. Brevel, the Israeli company behind this alternative to the omnipresent ingredients in everything from plant-based burgers to dairy-free cheese, aims to become the number one choice for plant-based protein worldwide.

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Brevel’s vision now becomes a business reality with the announcement of $8.4 million in a seed funding round. The funding will be utilized to build a commercial pilot factory which will serve as the basis for scaling the company’s proprietary technology and enhancing its research and development capabilities. Investors include FoodHack, Good Startup VC, Tet Ventures, and Nevateam Ventures.

The fermentation of microalgae as an alt-protein has been under consideration but has not made the headlines because of its cost and issues with flavor. Brevel says it has found a solution by combining sugar-based fermentation of microalgae with a high concentration of light at industrial scales. The company says its nutritionally rich, neutral-flavored microalgae-based protein solves issues with plant-based dairy and egg products that lack a valuable nutritional profile.

In an email interview with The Spoon, Brevel CEO and Co-Founder Yonatan Golan shared some additional details.

Will the company make its own microalgae foods or sell them to other manufacturers? Have there been any sample products created yet?

Our protein comes as a dry powder which can be simply added directly to formulations. Today, our partners add it in different forms – either directly as powder, or apply some processes such as homogenization, secondary fermentation, etc. to increase its solubility, extract additional flavors, and more. This depends on their specific needs and preferences.

In terms of functionality – at the moment, for our first segment of partners, we actually try to be as inert as possible – increase the nutritional profile of products without changing taste, color, texture, or cost for the end consumer. One of our piloting partners described it as a “ghost protein” – it increases protein content without you noticing it is there. In the second stage, we will be looking to provide functionalities such as gelation, texturing, emulsification, and more, which are most suitable for fish and seafood alternatives.

We are piloting with many different food manufacturers worldwide who are very excited about our ability to increase their nutritional profile without changing taste, color, texture, or cost for the end consumer.

Later in June, we will be at the largest alternative protein conference (Future food tech) in NYC and will have an exclusive tasting room where we will showcase several of the products our partners developed with our protein – plant-based cheese with a high protein content which melts on pizza, sunny side up eggs with our protein both in the white and the yolk.

How did the company land on microalgae? From previous research?

My co-founders are my two brothers: Matan is an MD who brings the health angle (plant-based food products today have a very low nutritional value which must be solved if we want to have a healthy future), and this is a key element in our vision. The second, Ido, is a genius engineer who happens to have a vast background in microalgae and manages to invent this entirely new way of producing microalgae efficiently and at a very high quality. I am vegan both from a moral and sustainable standpoint and am enthusiastic about finding solutions to feed our growing population sustainably and ethically. I have three children who are also vegan, and I am very concerned about the future they will live in if we don’t make drastic changes. As a physicist, I view this challenge very rationally and believe that microalgae can become the ultimate solution, like many experts and companies. However, to date, no one has been able to solve the cost and quality barriers to make this vision become a reality.

This is why we decided to dedicate ourselves to working hard on this problem and have managed to break through the glass ceiling this industry has seen for too many decades.

To educate those who do not know what exactly is microalgae?

Microalgae are microscopic organisms that use photosynthesis to grow very resource efficiently. Microalgae evolved more than 2 billion years ago. For the first time in the prehistory of earth transformed most of the CO2 in our atmosphere into oxygen and enabled the development of more advanced forms of life. Even today, microalgae account for more than 50% of the oxygen production cycle daily.

Microalgae naturally contain 40%-60% protein alongside a variety of healthy ingredients.

Microalgae grow everywhere on our planet – lakes, rivers, oceans, and even deserts and the arctic. More than 500,000 different strains exist in nature, and only a small fraction have been researched. A handful is used for food, feed, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, fertilizers, and biofuel production. Brevel uses non-GMO microalgae grown in a unique breakthrough technology that enables the highest quality of sustainable protein production at cost levels comparable to pea and soy, the leading plant-based protein source today.

Move over pea protein and soy, there’s a new alt-protein in town made from microalgae, and it’s cheaper and more sustainable. Brevel, the Israeli company behind this alternative to the omnipresent ingredients in everything from plant-based burgers to dairy-free cheese, aims to become the number one choice for plant-based protein worldwide.

Brevel’s vision now becomes a business reality with the announcement of $8.4 million in a seed funding round. The funding will be utilized to build a commercial pilot factory which will serve as the basis for scaling the company’s proprietary technology and enhancing its research and development capabilities. Investors include FoodHack, Good Startup VC, Tet Ventures, and Nevateam Ventures.

The fermentation of microalgae as an alt-protein has been under consideration but has not made the headlines because of its cost and issues with flavor. Brevel says it has found a solution by combining sugar-based fermentation of microalgae with a high concentration of light at industrial scales. The company says its nutritionally rich, neutral-flavored microalgae-based protein solves issues with plant-based dairy and egg products that lack a valuable nutritional profile.

In an email interview with The Spoon, Brevel CEO and Co-Founder Yonatan Golan shared some additional details.

Will the company make its own microalgae foods or sell them to other manufacturers? Have there been any sample products created yet?

Our protein comes as a dry powder which can be simply added directly to formulations. Today, our partners add it in different forms – either directly as powder, or apply some processes such as homogenization, secondary fermentation, etc. to increase its solubility, extract additional flavors, and more. This depends on their specific needs and preferences.

In terms of functionality – at the moment, for our first segment of partners, we actually try to be as inert as possible – increase the nutritional profile of products without changing taste, color, texture, or cost for the end consumer. One of our piloting partners described it as a “ghost protein” – it increases protein content without you noticing it is there. In the second stage, we will be looking to provide functionalities such as gelation, texturing, emulsification, and more, which are most suitable for fish and seafood alternatives.

We are piloting with many different food manufacturers worldwide who are very excited about our ability to increase their nutritional profile without changing taste, color, texture, or cost for the end consumer.

Later in June, we will be at the largest alternative protein conference (Future food tech) in NYC and will have an exclusive tasting room where we will showcase several of the products our partners developed with our protein – plant-based cheese with a high protein content which melts on pizza, sunny side up eggs with our protein both in the white and the yolk.

How did the company land on microalgae? From previous research?

My co-founders are my two brothers: Matan is an MD who brings the health angle (plant-based food products today have a very low nutritional value which must be solved if we want to have a healthy future), and this is a key element in our vision. The second, Ido, is a genius engineer who happens to have a vast background in microalgae and manages to invent this entirely new way of producing microalgae efficiently and at a very high quality. I am vegan both from a moral and sustainable standpoint and am enthusiastic about finding solutions to feed our growing population sustainably and ethically. I have three children who are also vegan, and I am very concerned about the future they will live in if we don’t make drastic changes. As a physicist, I view this challenge very rationally and believe that microalgae can become the ultimate solution, like many experts and companies. However, to date, no one has been able to solve the cost and quality barriers to make this vision become a reality.

This is why we decided to dedicate ourselves to working hard on this problem and have managed to break through the glass ceiling this industry has seen for too many decades.

To educate those who do not know what exactly is microalgae?

Microalgae are microscopic organisms that use photosynthesis to grow very resource efficiently. Microalgae evolved more than 2 billion years ago. For the first time in the prehistory of earth transformed most of the CO2 in our atmosphere into oxygen and enabled the development of more advanced forms of life. Even today, microalgae account for more than 50% of the oxygen production cycle daily.

Microalgae naturally contain 40%-60% protein alongside a variety of healthy ingredients.

Microalgae grow everywhere on our planet – lakes, rivers, oceans, and even deserts and the arctic. More than 500,000 different strains exist in nature, and only a small fraction have been researched. A handful is used for food, feed, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, fertilizers, and biofuel production. Brevel uses non-GMO microalgae grown in a unique breakthrough technology that enables the highest quality of sustainable protein production at cost levels comparable to pea and soy, the leading plant-based protein source today.



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