As leading plant-based food producers, such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, continue to benefit from increasing consumer demand, Geb Impact sees an opportunity to supply the sustainable ingredient made from microalgae.
“We are able to produce that protein sustainably, so if we become the supplier [for food manufacturers] in terms of that protein, there is no limit to how much they can produce,” said James Chang, founder and chief executive of Geb Impact.
Microalgae are single-cell microorganisms found in fresh and salt water that grow through photosynthesis, consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. As microalgae do not compete for natural resources or farmland, they are considered one of the most promising sustainable sources of food ingredients.
Chang said microalgae can yield the equivalent of 30 to 50 metric tonnes per hectare, about 15 times more than soybeans, noting that this can go some way in alleviating the hunger crisis currently gripping the world. A United Nations report in July showed that there was a dramatic worsening in world hunger in 2020 caused by the pandemic, with nearly one in three people without access to adequate food.
“This is a potential disruptive product for the plant-based alternative protein [market], because of the high proliferation rate,” said Chang, noting that cost will come down as production is scaled up. “We are very confident that it can be a sustainable food source without having to become a victim of climate change or limited resources.”
The company aims to produce one metric tonne of microalgae powder per month and has partnered with Sweet Secrets, a health-conscious bakery, to create plant-based cupcakes with microalgae frosting. It also has a tie-up with plant-based culinary nutrition platform Our Conscious Kitchen to create an antioxidant spice blend.
Geb Impact has also launched Eiyoka Algae Foods to showcase proof-of-concept products incorporating microalgae, such as their shrimp roe noodles which can be bought online.
Impact investment firm Dao Foods International has also invested in Geb Impact to further develop microalgae cultivation and help extend their product reach into China.
Geb Impact was also looking for series A investment over the next two years, to hire new professionals and buy more equipment to scale their production and increase capacity to reach industrial levels.
“We anticipate that ingredient companies will gain a greater share of the value chain as they aid manufacturers in improving innovation and speed to market.”