Smoked salmon made entirely from algae which 'looks and tastes like fish' to hit UK shelves – iNews

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A smoked salmon alternative made almost entirely from algae is set to hit UK shelves by the end of next year.
Israeli start-up SimpliiGood has received backing from International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), a $5bn (£3.95bn) firm owned by chemicals company DuPont, to produce a smoked salmon alternative made from spirulina, a type of algae.
SimpliiGood has already devised a way of moulding the spirulina into something that tastes and looks like smoked salmon, but at the moment the prototype product does not taste of anything.
That is where IFF come in. Experts at the corporate will work over the next 12 months to perfect a salmon-like taste for the product before it is launched to customers, said Lior Shalev, CEO and founder of Algaemor, which owns SimpliiGood. The value and terms of the deal with IFF were not disclosed.
The prototype product already has “that kind of fatty bite you would want from fish,” Mr Shalev told i, but he admitted it currently has a “very, very neutral taste and smell”.
But he argued that once a salmon flavour has been added, it will be a “superior product” to traditional smoked salmon – containing more protein and fewer pollutants such as microplastic particles and mercury which is often found in wild-caught salmon.
Spirulina is a high-protein algae laced with B vitamins and iron, and was once eaten by the Aztecs. It is grown in water and often sold in powdered form as a health food supplement to be added to smoothies and juices.
This is the first time it will become the primary ingredient in an 2alternative protein” product, SimpliiGood says. The firm already produces 50 tons of spirulina per year in vats in the Israeli desert. The plant-based salmon will be made from 97 to 98 per cent spirulina, said Mr Shalev.
The plan is to launch in the UK and Europe by the end of next year, at a price point close to traditional smoked salmon.
“Consumers are ripe and ready for these sorts of produce,” Mr Shalev insisted. “We already know how to produce it in a lab, and in the area of pricing … we are actually competing with the animal-based produce.”
Around one million salmon meals are eaten every day in the UK, making it one of the country’s most popular fish. Most of salmon sold in the UK is farmed, usually in Scotland where thousands of fish are reared in nets suspended in coastal lochs. Fish farmers say salmon reared in this way is sustainable, low-carbon and ethical.
But the industry has faced severe criticism from environmentalists and animal welfare campaigners.
Often, salmon are sprayed with pesticides to kill off lice infestations, which marine biologists worry can leach into the water of lochs and harm other marine life. Meanwhile, their feed can contain fish oil which has been harvested from wild fish, adding to pressure on the oceans.
This week, researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland concluded that switching from a diet rich in meat and dairy products to one with plenty of “novel” foods like algae, insects, cultured meat and mycoproteins can cut the environmental impact of the average European diet by more than 80 per cent.
Mr Shalev said spirulina will be a food of the future. “We are the ultimate converter of solar energy into protein,” he said. “You don’t have a better converter than spirulina for that.”
“At the end of the day we can’t carry on producing and growing foods in the way we are used to. Because it is doing too much harm to the environment.”
Meat substitutes have become big business with firms such as Quorn and Beyond Meat creating plant-based alternatives to beef and chicken enjoyed by millions of customers each year.
The meat substitutes industry is worth around £7bn a year around the world and is expected to double in the next five years.
But it is far from clear whether consumers are ready to switch from eating “real” fish to replacement products made from cultured algae, particularly if they have a higher price tag.
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