Algae and chocolate: A Dutch company has successfully blended chocolate with spirulina for an even healthier superfood treat

Dutch startup The Algae Factory is going beyond the limits of food ingredients and combinations – they have decided to incorporate spirulina into chocolate.

It is a very unusual combination. [But] the chocolate combines well with spirulina. We worked a lot on the recipe to find the best variety of cocoa [that is] able to soften the taste of spirulina,” Wageningen University and Research Centre graduate and startup co-founder Stefania Abbona said.

The Algae Factory’s spirulina chocolate is made of cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier which is soy lecithin, and of course, artisanal spirulina, which is organically grown and dried under the sun. It is guaranteed lactose- and gluten-free – therefore 100 percent vegan-friendly. What’s more, it is high in fiber and is a good source of protein.

Boasting of a complete nutritional profile, The Algae Factory’s spirulina chocolate is not only meant to appeal to the senses, it is also designed to boost energy levels.

Also, seeing the green algae inside the chocolate after the first bite makes our products unique. The texture is crunchy and it seems [as if] there are nuts or puffed rice inside instead of algae. This crunchiness is really appreciated by our consumers, as they do not expect it,” Abbona said.

People are eager to try their chocolate despite the odd food pairing, for it opens up avenues for people who usually won’t consume the sweet treat. “Nowadays more and more consumers are vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian. People are more open to try different flavors and algae has become very popular, as it is an alternative to animal protein.”

Inspiration struck Abbona and The Algae Factory’s other founder, Pierluigi Santoro, after both of them decided not to take any more spirulina supplements.

A 2015 crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter provided an opportunity for The Algae Factory to market itself, paving the way for an increase in sales and promotion. Abbona and Santoro felt fulfilled, even though their crowdfunding campaign raised only 6,086 Euros.

The Algae Factory launched its own corporate social responsibility model that they called the Bite4Bite Programme, with proceeds from their spirulina chocolate sales building spirulina farms in Africa, in an effort to provide food opportunities for the people there.

Today, The Algae Factory’s biggest challenge remains to be sources of funding and how to expand. 

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