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Algae makes its way to the aisles

Thinkstock spirulina powder
More than a dozen beverages featuring algae debuted at Natural Products Expo West 2017. Here's more on where else this sustainable ingredient is showing up.

The following is an excerpt from the NEXT Forecast, an insider’s guide to where the natural products market is now—and where it’s headed. The updated NEXT Forecast for 2018 includes a new section on ingredient trends, and updated market manifestations for 13 macro forces. Learn more here.

Algae is nature’s miraculous aquatic single-cell chemical factory. While barely a blip on the new product development map just four years ago, algae-derived products are finally leaving the spirulina tablet bottle and arriving on store shelves within drinks, cosmetics and dairy. Algae even creates the blue color in M&Ms.

Over the last decade there’s been an explosion of algae research in government, academia and private-sector initiatives. At first algae was seen as a potential biofuel. That hasn’t panned out yet, but beauty lotions and nutritious food add-ins have turned out to be the low-hanging fruit. That’s translated to a fascinating aspect of algae: Producers can tweak the formulation of creating algae industrially to spike different nutritional levels, be it protein, omega-3s or other healthy fats, with decadent textures and enticing taste profiles.

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