Brevel’s Algae Protein Rivals Soy in New Israeli Plant

Brevel, an innovative Israeli startup, has taken a significant step forward in the alternative protein market by opening a commercial facility in southern Israel. This new 27,000-square-foot plant is set to produce hundreds of tons of neutral-tasting, highly-functional algae protein, positioning it as a potential competitor to established plant-based proteins like pea and soy. Founded in 2016 by the Golan brothers—Yonatan (CEO), Ido (CTO), and Matan (COO)—Brevel completed an $18.5 million seed round last summer to finance this state-of-the-art facility. The site now houses the company’s headquarters, R&D labs, food applications lab, and commercial production area.

The facility will produce a steady supply of a white powdered microalgae protein concentrate, boasting a protein content of 60-70%. According to CEO Yonatan Golan, Brevel’s protein surpasses soy and pea proteins in terms of flavor and color, and it is also non-allergenic and more sustainable. “Our protein is superior to soy and pea protein in terms of flavor and color, plus it’s non-allergenic and much more sustainable in terms of water and land usage as well as CO2 emissions,” Golan told AgFunderNews.

While the initial pricing of Brevel’s algae protein will be in the range of $15-20/kg, Golan expects that mid-term pricing will drop below $10/kg, making it a highly viable solution for the majority of the market. In the long term, Brevel aims to achieve price parity with pea and soy proteins as they commercialize additional co-products and increase profitability.

Brevel’s first products containing this innovative protein are expected to launch in early 2025. The company is starting with a 5,000-liter bioreactor, with plans to scale up to a total of 30,000 liters. This facility serves as the starting point for larger manufacturing plants to be developed in joint ventures with global partners. Brevel has already secured an agreement for a 900,000-liter plant and is working on additional agreements.

The primary focus for Brevel’s algae protein is in dairy alternatives, due to its neutral flavor and white color, which can be easily integrated into plant-based cheese and milk products without compromising taste or appearance. The protein also offers functional benefits such as foaming, emulsification, and gelling, making it highly versatile for various applications in the food industry.

Algae is emerging as an exciting source of food and nutrition, with various firms cultivating it in different ways. However, attempts to create an economically viable food protein from algae have been less successful until now. Brevel claims to have developed a high-yielding process that combines LED lighting with sugar-based fermentation. This process yields a neutral-tasting complete protein, along with high-value co-products including carotenoids, fibers, and polar lipids.

Brevel uses a non-GMO chlorella strain that is GRAS approved in the U.S. and not considered a Novel Food by EFSA. However, the company is still navigating the regulatory process for the ingredients extracted from it. The unique process employed by Brevel does not alter the DNA of the microalgae but induces it to produce functional proteins and lipids due to the activation of the photosynthetic complex.

In contrast to other firms that use indoor LED lighting for high-value ingredients like nutraceuticals and cosmetics, Brevel’s process is designed to be cost-effective for protein production. By combining fermentation and light, Brevel can produce biomass at yields 100 times higher than light-based cultivation, both indoor and outdoor, while maintaining the commercial value and quality derived from light exposure.

Brevel’s algae protein is different from that produced by dark fermentation, as it is much more functional and contains higher levels of proteins from the photosynthetic complex. This unique combination of fermentation and light enables the production of valuable co-products alongside the protein, significantly increasing profitability and making Brevel a pioneering force in the alternative protein market.

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