Best Algae and Seaweed for Beverage Ingredients

Buyers' Guide

Best Algae and Seaweed for Beverage Ingredients

Date published:
October 15, 2023

Algae and seaweed, renowned for their unique flavors and potent nutritional benefits in eastern traditions, are making waves in the beverage industry across western cultures. As consumers increasingly seek natural, more health-forward beverage options, it is vital for businesses to understand and leverage the potential of algae and seaweed in their product formulations and supply chains.

This comprehensive B2B Buyers’ Guide explores five specific types of algae and seaweed ingredients and their roles in the beverage sector. Designed for product development professionals and procurement teams, this guide not only provides insights into nutritional highlights, potential applications, and current market trends, but also offers sourcing tips for companies looking to procure transparent and trustworthy algae and seaweed for their beverages. Our goal is for this buyers’ guide to help businesses confidently integrate algae and seaweed into their beverage lineup. 

IMPORTANT: For clarity purposes, there are two general categories of algae - macro-algae and micro-algae. Macro-algae is commonly known as seaweed and predominantly grows in oceans and other marine environments.  Micro-algaes are typically unicellular organisms that grow in both freshwater and the ocean. We use the words algae and seaweed interchangeably throughout the guide.

Our Top Picks

Best for All-Around Nutrition


Best for Detoxification

Irish Moss

Best Seaweed for Adding Texture


Best for Antioxidant Activity




Best for All-Around Nutrition

Spirulina stands as a leading choice for adding an all-around nutritional boost as well as a visual appeal to beverages. It contains 60-70% protein by dry weight and contains all essential amino acids making it a complete protein source1. Moreover, spirulina is rich in various vitamins and minerals, enhancing its appeal as a multifaceted supplement in beverages. While it has been used for centuries across many cultures, its recent surge in popularity is attributed to a growing awareness of its nutrient-dense profile and versatile application in both food and beverages. Spirulina can be used in both dry and fresh form allowing businesses to cater to a wide consumer base ranging from health enthusiasts to the everyday consumer seeking a simple nutrient boost.

  • Serves as a rich source of complete protein and other nutrients.
  • Offers a vibrant, natural color to beverages.
  • Already a well-known superfood among consumers.
  • Requires careful sourcing to ensure product purity and safety.
  • Dried form can introduce an earthy flavor to beverages.
  • Can be expensive relative to other alternative proteins if used in small quantities.

Top beverage applications for spirulina

Spirulina can be integrated into a wide array of beverages, adding a rich source of protein, key vitamins and minerals, and a vibrant hue that can elevate a product's nutritional value and appeal. Here are some of the top applications:

  • Smoothies: Introduce spirulina in smoothies to cater to the wellness market with a product rich in protein and essential vitamins to get into customers’ daily routines. 
  • Sparkling Waters: Incorporate spirulina into sparkling waters to create visually appealing and nutritious refreshments that can stand out in a competitive market.
  • Protein Shakes: Blend Spirulina into shakes for a higher, animal-free protein content that appeals to fitness enthusiasts.
  • Energy Shots: Utilize spirulina in energy shot formulations to offer a potent source of all-natural energy for consumers on the go.
  • Sports Drinks: Add spirulina to sports drinks for health-conscious consumers looking for enhanced endurance and recovery.

Spirulina potential health benefits

  • Spirulina Benefit #1 - High protein content: Spirulina is about 60-70% protein by dry weight and contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete and rich protein source.1
  • Spirulina Benefit #2 - Nutrient dense: Spirulina is incredibly nutrient-rich. It provides a substantial amount of vitamins like B1, B2, and B3, along with essential minerals such as copper and iron.1
  • Spirulina Benefit #3 - Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties: Spirulina contains phycocyanin, an antioxidant that helps boost your immune system.2
  • Spirulina Benefit #4 - Muscle strength and endurance benefits: There's evidence suggesting that spirulina can improve muscle strength and endurance, beneficial for those involved in regular physical activities as it is a complete protein source.3

What products can spirulina replace?

Spirulina can serve as a replacement for many common beverage ingredients businesses use on a daily basis to boost the nutritional profile and health benefits of their products.

  • Artificial Food Coloring: Spirulina can serve as a natural colorant, replacing artificial blue or green synthetic dyes in beverage products from cocktails to sparking water to sports drinks.
  • Whey Protein in Protein Drinks: Spirulina can serve as a plant-based, protein-rich alternative in protein drinks traditionally using whey or soy proteins.
  • Iron Supplements in Fortified Juices: Spirulina can naturally enhance the iron content in juices and shakes, steering clear of artificial fortification agents.

What types of beverage businesses use spirulina?

Spirulina’s nutritional and visual appeal offer businesses an opportunity to diversify their product lines with a superfood infusion, including:

  • Beverage Manufacturers: Spirulina can augment the nutritional profile and appearance of beverages allowing manufacturers to create extensions to their existing product lines, ranging from smoothies to functional beverages.
  • Sports Drink Companies: Leveraging spirulina’s high protein content can differentiate sports drinks serving the demands of fitness enthusiasts and athletes.
  • Breweries: Innovative breweries can experiment with spirulina to create unique, naturally colored green beers, especially for themed events or specialty markets.
  • Juice Bars: Spirulina can serve as an excellent add-in option in juices and smoothies, allowing businesses to offer a nutrition boost to their customers.
  • Tea and Coffee Shops: Cafes can offer spirulina lattes or teas as a health-focused alternative to their regular menu, catering to health-conscious consumers.




Best for Detoxification

Chlorella has carved out its niche in the beverage sector as a prime ingredient for detox beverages. The high chlorophyll content in chlorella not only facilitates detoxification but also brings a vibrant green color to drinks, enhancing their visual appeal. Apart from detox beverages, it finds applications in smoothies and wellness drinks.

  • Strong detoxifying properties.4
  • Complete protein source.
  • Rich in chlorophyll, promoting overall health.
  • Can add a natural green hue to beverages.
  • Pronounced, earthy flavor might require careful formulation to balance in beverages.
  • Must source from reputable suppliers to ensure safety and quality.
  • Some forms can be harder to digest.

Top beverage applications for chlorella

Chlorella can serve as a prime addition to beverages geared towards health and wellness, introducing detoxifying properties. Here are some of the top applications:

  • Detox Juices and Smoothies: Incorporate chlorella to amplify the detoxifying properties as well as boosting overall nutritional value.
  • Wellness Shots: Add chlorella to wellness shots to provide a quick, potent dose of detoxifying benefits.
  • Recovery Drinks: Utilize chlorella in recovery drink formulations, helping consumers detox post-exercise and aid faster recovery.

Chlorella potential health benefits

  • Chlorella Benefit #1 - Detoxifying agent: Chlorella is renowned for its detoxifying properties, specifically its potential to bind and assist in the removal of heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the body.4
  • Chlorella Benefit #2 - Nutrient dense: Chlorella boasts a complete protein profile including 50-60% protein content, iron, vitamin C, and other antioxidants.5
  • Chlorella Benefit #3 - Immune system booster: Research indicates that chlorella can enhance the immune system, potentially by augmenting the activity of various immune cells.5
  • Chlorella Benefit #4 - Blood pressure management: Initial studies suggest that chlorella could be effective in managing high blood pressure.6

What products can chlorella replace?

Chlorella can stand as a potent substitute for traditional greens and detox agents, enhancing the nutritional value and detoxification benefits of beverages.

  • Spinach or Kale in Green Smoothies: Incorporate chlorella to replace or complement greens like spinach or kale in smoothies, bringing a concentrated dose of nutrients.
  • Activated Charcoal in Detox Drinks: Chlorella is a nutrient-rich alternative to activated charcoal in detox beverages.
  • Green Food Coloring in Juices: Ditch synthetic colors in favor of chlorella to naturally achieve a vibrant green hue in juices and other beverages.
  • Wheatgrass in Wellness Shots: Chlorella can replace wheatgrass in wellness shots, offering a unique flavor and higher iron content.

What types of beverage businesses use chlorella?

Chlorella’s rich nutrient profile and detoxifying properties make it a popular choice for a wide range of beverage businesses:

  • Wellness Drink Manufacturers: Companies can enrich their functional beverage line by integrating chlorella, promoting it as a detox beverage.
  • Juice Bars: Juice bars can offer chlorella as a potent add-in to elevate the detoxification properties of their juices and smoothies.
  • Energy Drink Companies: Reformulating energy drinks with chlorella can offer a healthier, nutrient-dense alternative to the conventional options available in the market.
  • Tea Companies: Infusing chlorella in tea formulations can be a novel approach to incorporating this superfood into daily routines, offering a detoxifying brew.
  • Spa and Wellness Centers: Establishments focusing on health and wellbeing can introduce a line of chlorella-infused beverages, serving them as a revitalizing, detoxifying option.

Irish Moss

Irish Moss


Best Seaweed for Adding Texture

Irish Sea moss is a favorable choice for enhancing the texture and consistency of beverages, lending them a smooth and creamy quality. It has surged in popularity due to its unique gelling qualities, dense nutritional composition, and recent endorsements from celebrities and influencers like Kim Kardashian. It naturally thickens liquids without significantly altering the flavor, making it an excellent addition to a range of beverages, from smoothies to non-dairy drinks. It’s a great ingredient to incorporate into texture-rich beverage formulations.

For clarity - sea moss is a generic term used to describe different species of red algae, most notably Irish moss—formally known as Chondrus crispus—most commonly harvested along the Atlantic coasts in the Americas and Europe. Brands often use the term, “sea moss” to refer to other types of red algae sourced from the Caribbean called Gracilaria. It is important for businesses to understand this point as these species contain different properties and nutritional profiles. We will use the term, “sea moss,” but we are referring to the species Chondrus crispus.

  • Enhances texture naturally without significantly affecting the flavor.
  • Suitable for a range of beverages; including non-dairy options.
  • Familiar among consumers due to celebrity endorsements and recommendations.
  • Requires careful preparation to ensure the desired texture in beverages.
  • Quality can vary greatly depending on the source.
  • Overuse can result in a gelatinous texture, potentially off-putting to some consumers.

Top beverage applications for sea moss

Sea moss can play a role in improving the texture and consistency of various beverages, providing a smooth and rich mouthfeel that can enhance the consumer experience. Here are some of its top applications:

  • Milk Alternatives: Upgrade milk alternatives with sea moss to add a creamy texture and enriched nutrient profile, satisfying the growing demand for plant-based beverages.
  • Frappes and Milkshakes: Sea moss can enhance and differentiate frappes and milkshakes by providing a silkier, richer consistency that could become a market differentiator.
  • Bubble Teas: Integrate sea moss into bubble tea formulations to add a nutritious twist and improved texture, meeting the taste preferences of bubble tea enthusiasts.
  • Dessert Drinks: Formulate dessert drinks with sea moss, promising a smooth and rich texture that can help carve a niche in the competitive beverage market.

Sea moss potential health benefits

  • Sea Moss Benefit #1 - Supports gut health and digestion: Sea moss is a good source of prebiotics, which are fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics can help to improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.7
  • Sea Moss Benefit #2 - Boosts immunity: Sea moss contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help to boost the immune system. Sea moss is also a good source of iron, which is essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body and fighting off infection.7
  • Sea Moss Benefit #3 - Supports thyroid health: Sea moss contains iodine, which is an essential mineral for thyroid function. Iodine helps the thyroid gland produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, and energy levels.8
  • Sea Moss Benefit #4 - Reduced inflammation: Sea moss contains antioxidants and other compounds that may help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is a root cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.9

What products does sea moss replace?

Sea moss can substitute several ingredients in beverages, naturally enhancing the texture and nutrition.

  • Gelatin in Drinks: Replace gelatin with sea moss in jellied drinks to provide a vegan-friendly, textural element.
  • Dairy in Creamy Drinks: Replace dairy in milkshakes, lattes, and other creamy beverages with sea moss gel to achieve a rich, creamy texture while keeping the beverage lactose-free and adding a nutrient boost. This substitution makes it easier to cater to lactose intolerant individuals and those preferring plant-based options.
  • Thickening Agents in Nut Milk: Replace common thickening agents with sea moss to not only achieve the desired consistency, but also infuse the beverage with additional nutrients and potential health benefits.
  • Emulsifiers in Cream Liqueurs: Utilize sea moss as a natural alternative to traditional emulsifiers in cream liqueurs, taking advantage of its gelling and thickening properties to achieve the desired texture, while enhancing the product's nutritional profile.

What types of beverage businesses use sea moss?

  • Nutritional Drink Brands: Companies can harness sea moss's nutrient-dense profile to elevate their beverage formulations.
  • Dairy and Non-Dairy Beverage Manufacturers: Sea moss can be utilized in dairy and non-dairy beverages to improve the texture and nutritional profile.
  • Functional Beverage Brands: Brands focusing on functional beverages can benefit from incorporating sea moss to add both functional and health benefits to their products.
  • Smoothie and Shake Companies: Sea moss can be utilized as a natural thickening agent in smoothies and shakes.



Best for Antioxidant Activity

Astaxanthin is an ingredient beverage companies are starting to pay attention to due to its potent antioxidant properties for functional beverages. Astaxanthin suppliers have recently come to market with odorless, tasteless powders that can be used for a variety of beverage applications. It not only contains proven health benefits, but can also add a visual appeal by imparting a vibrant red hue. This carotenoid is derived from algae and finds its place in wellness shots, juices, smoothies, and sports and energy drinks. It is well-designed to cater to consumers prioritizing wellness and functionality in their beverage choices.

  • Potent antioxidant properties enhancing wellness offerings.10
  • Imparts a visually appealing red hue to beverages.
  • Easy way to enter the functional beverage category.
  • Sourcing high-quality astaxanthin requires diligent supplier research.
  • High cost ingredient; best fit for premium offerings. 
  • Requires careful formulation in beverages.

Top beverage applications for astaxanthin

Astaxanthin can serve as a key differentiator in beverage products due to its potent antioxidant properties and rich color profile. Here are some of the top applications:

  • Functional Beverages: Introduce astaxanthin into functional beverages to create products that not only refresh but also rejuvenate the body.
  • Sparkling Wellness Drinks: Enhance your line of beverages with astaxanthin, known for its potent antioxidant properties and vibrant red-orange hue, to offer a drink that's nourishing and appealing to health-conscious consumers.
  • Healthy Cocktails: Develop a line of healthy cocktails infused with astaxanthin, promising a blend of enjoyment and wellness, creating a new niche in the cocktail market.

Astaxanthin potential health benefits

  • Astaxanthin Benefit #1 - Supports heart health: Astaxanthin has been shown to improve cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and protect the heart from damage. Astaxanthin may also help to lower blood pressure.11
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #2 - Antioxidant powerhouse: Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and lead to a variety of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.12
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #3 - Boosts immunity: Astaxanthin can help to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells and natural killer cells. Astaxanthin may also help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system.12
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #4 - Improves cognitive function: Astaxanthin has been shown to improve cognitive function by protecting the brain from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Astaxanthin may also help to improve memory and learning.12
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #5 - Improves exercise performance: Astaxanthin can potentially improve exercise performance by reducing muscle fatigue and increasing endurance. Astaxanthin may also help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise.13

What products does astaxanthin replace?

Astaxanthin stands as a potent alternative to various common ingredients, enhancing the health profile of your beverage offerings.

  • Caffeine and Taurine in Energy Drinks: Replace taurine in energy drinks with astaxanthin, offering a potent antioxidant boost that can promote endurance and recovery. It can also be used to reduce the caffeine content in energy drinks as it has been cited for energy-boosting properties. This can offer a more balanced energy lift, without the adverse effects of excessive caffeine consumption.
  • Vitamin E Supplements in Wellness Drinks: Use astaxanthin instead of vitamin E supplements in wellness drinks to naturally enhance antioxidant content.
  • Beta-Carotene in Juices: Swap beta-carotene with astaxanthin in juices to offer a more powerful antioxidant profile.
  • Artificial Colorants in Pink or Red Drinks: Replace artificial colorants used in pink or red beverages with astaxanthin to attain a vibrant, natural color and increase the nutrient content of the beverage.

What types of beverage businesses use astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin offers businesses in the world of beverages a way to create truly differentiated products.

  • Wellness Beverage Brands: Companies can introduce a line of astaxanthin-infused drinks for overall wellness and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Energy Drink Brands: Businesses can reformulate energy drinks with astaxanthin, offering a product that stands out in a highly competitive, crowded market.
  • Sport Nutrition Drinks: Leverage astaxanthin’s benefits to craft beverages catering to athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking for optimal recovery.
  • Juice Bars: Introduce astaxanthin as a premium add-in option for juices and smoothies.
  • Tea Companies: Astaxanthin can be integrated into tea formulations, offering a brew enriched with powerful antioxidants.
Nutritional Highlights

Each type of algae and seaweed carries its own unique benefits relative to other species. Below are the nutritional highlights each species is most well-known for.

  • Spirulina - protein powerhouse: Spirulina is renowned for its high and complete protein content, making it an excellent choice for muscle health and overall well-being.
  • Chlorella - detoxifying agent: Known for its high chlorophyll content, chlorella supports detoxification processes to promote a clean and healthy body.
  • Irish Sea Moss - digestion support: Irish sea moss carries the unique property of soothing the mucous membranes of the body due to its gelling qualities. It can improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.
  • Astaxanthin - cellular protection: Astaxanthin helps to protect the cells from damage and can support healthy aging.

DISCLAIMER: The nutritional content of algae and seaweed can vary widely based on growing conditions, harvesting time, processing methods, and geographic location. When purchasing, businesses should have the product tested and verified by a third-party.

Side-by-Side Comparison
Ingredient name Why we picked it Highlights Best fit for
Spirulina Best for All-Around Nutrition Well-known, versatile, high in protein; natural colorant. Wide-range of beverages.
Chlorella Best for Detoxification Strong detox properties; complete protein source. Beverages with a focus on detoxification.
Sea Moss Best Seaweed for Adding Texture and Consistency Natural texture enhancer; trending due to celebrity and athlete endorsements. Functional beverages looking to enhance texture and consistency.
Astaxanthin Best for Antioxidant Benefits Strong antioxidant profile; scientific data to support health claims. Premium products focused on functionality and wellness.
Product Examples and Use Cases
Company Product Ingredient Used Function of Ingredient
MADO Energy Drink Astaxanthin Antioxidants and overall wellness.
Charmlee Adaptogenic Sparkling Water Astaxanthin Natural mood enhancer.
FUL Sparking Water Spirulina Natural colorant; nutritional enhancer.
GT's Living Foods Kombucha Spirulina Natural colorant; nutritional enhancer.
True Citrus True Lemon Kids Drink Mix Spirulina Natural colorant.
Lemonkind Detox and Hydration Juice Chlorella Detoxification; nutrient boost.
Alver Wellness Shots Chlorella Digestive health.
Yogi Tea Minty Chlorella Tea Chlorella Detoxification.
James William Diners Sea Moss Drink Sea Moss Digestion support; texture.
Jamaica Way Sea Moss Mango Drink Sea Moss Digestion support; texture.
QCumber Infusion Fruit Infused Tea Sea Moss Digestion and detoxification.
Top Trends

Below are top trends in the beverage market businesses should pay attention to when thinking about incorporating algae and seaweed into their products and overall strategy. Many of these trends are being driven by consumer preferences, which have major implications for the B2B world of functional beverages.

The rise of functional beverages and superfoods as consumers are starting look at, “food as medicine”

Although functional beverages and superfoods have become common in certain cities and geographies with more health-conscious populations, this trend is now starting to spread into larger consumer segments. Due to the explosion of independent media and health specialists educating the public on overall health and wellness, people are increasingly looking at food and drinks as medicine. Algae and seaweed are already branded as superfoods due to their rich nutrient profiles and proven functional benefits that include supporting immune function, promoting gut health, and potentially aiding in weight management. This makes them compelling ingredients for businesses to incorporate into their beverages to bring them into the functional category.

The flourishing nootropic beverage sector

With an increased focus on mental wellbeing and cognitive function, there is a growing trend towards beverages that offer nootropic benefits, enhancing mental clarity and focus. Certain algae and seaweeds, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients, can potentially offer cognitive health benefits. B2B operators have a promising opportunity to craft beverages targeting this space, promoting a blend of taste and cognition-enhancing properties derived from algae and seaweed.

Consumers want to know what is in their products and transparent supply chains

As consumers become more conscious about the origins of their products, there's a growing demand for supply chain transparency for the products they consume. They want to know what is in the products they buy, where they come from, and who is involved in making the products. Algae and seaweed play well into this trend as the supply chains are in the formation stage allowing for businesses to demand transparency when purchasing.

Growing interest in using natural food colorants vs synthetic food dyes

With the push among consumers for natural and clean-label ingredients, algae is an attractive ingredient for natural beverage colorants. Spirulina has gained attention as a natural blue-green colorant to replace synthetic food and beverage dyes after the FDA's approval of its use as a food color in candy and gum. The is the most common way algae is being used to give beverages a natural blue or green color, but other forms of algae can provide red and orange color profiles.

Consumers want products that improve both human and planetary health, but will not compromise on quality or taste

Consumers are increasingly looking for products and companies that are dedicated to improving human and planetary health. Algae and seaweed are perfect candidates for this trend due to the nutritional benefits and low environmental impact of production. While consumers are getting serious about this point, they are not willing to compromise on the overall quality or taste of the product. Businesses will only see success using seaweed and algae as an ingredient if the product tastes extremely good and stands out from the competition.

Rising adoption of plant-based products

Consumers are shifting towards more plant-based diets fueled by concerns surrounding the environment and ethical considerations. Algae and seaweeds seamlessly fit into this category as they are completely plant-based, rich in nutrients, and offer complete protein profiles. This trend provides a significant opportunity for B2B operators to integrate these ingredients into beverages, showcasing them as premium, health-enhancing ingredients that align with consumers' values and dietary choices.

The emergence of gut health-focused beverages

Consumer awareness regarding the importance of gut health is on the rise, steering a trend towards beverages enriched with prebiotics and other gut health-enhancing ingredients. Algae and seaweed contain natutal fibers and compounds that can foster a healthy gut microbiome. This trend opens avenues for B2B entities to develop beverages with a focus on promoting gut health, leveraging the natural properties of algae and seaweed to support digestive health.

Birth of the “Values-based Consumer”

With endless options on the market for nearly everything, consumers are looking to buy products from companies that match their personal values. This trend of, “values-based consumerism” means people are choosing to buy things that reflect what they believe in and care about. A deep desire across every consumer is supporting local economies. Algae and seaweed are a perfect fit for this trend as businesses that purchase these ingredients have a direct effect on farmers, their families, and local communities where it is grown. Telling this story will be an important point of differentiation for businesses going forward.

Expansion in non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages

With a growing consumer interest in non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages, there is an increasing scope for the incorporation of algae and seaweed to add depth of flavor and nutrient richness to such beverages. B2B companies can leverage this trend to create innovative non-alcoholic cocktails, mocktails, and low-alcohol beverages infused with the unique flavors and health benefits of algae and seaweed.

Algae and seaweed in premium tea and coffee blends

The premium tea and coffee market is seeing an inclination towards blends enriched with additional health-promoting ingredients. Incorporating algae and seaweed in tea and coffee blends can offer a distinct flavor profile along with enhanced nutritional benefits, presenting a novel avenue for B2B businesses to explore and cater to the premium beverage market.


Q: Is algae the same as seaweed?

There are two general categories of algae - macro-algae and micro-algae. Macro-algae is commonly known as seaweed and predominantly grows in the ocean and marine environments.  Micro-algae is mainly a unicellular organism and grows in both freshwater and the ocean.

Both seaweed and micro-algae can be grown wild, through outdoor cultivation, or by  controlled indoor agricultural methods by using bioreactors.

There are over 72,000 different species of algae, but less than 20 are commonly used across different industries.

Q: What product formats are seaweed and algae available in?

They come in a variety of formats. Fresh, frozen, dried, powdered, and flakes. There are also a variety of extracts in both liquid and powdered form that are available. Your target application and nutritional profile will be the driving force on what format and species to purchase. 

Q: How can I maximize the health benefits of seaweed and algae in beverages without compromising taste?

Certain micro-algae like spirulina have no flavor when used in fresh or frozen form. Ingredient providers are also coming to market with a variety of tasteless, odorless, algae-based powders that can be easily incorporated into beverages. Some algae can introduce a unique "oceanic" or umami aftertaste. This can be balanced by using sweeteners, acids, or other flavor agents. Each type of algae carries its own flavor profile so start with subtle incorporations, blending the flavors of seaweed with familiar tastes. Over time, as consumers become accustomed, you can gradually increase the proportion, ensuring both flavor and nutrition are balanced. 

Q: Can algae and seaweed be used as natural colorants in beverages?

Absolutely! Spirulina, for instance, can provide a vivid blue-green color, while astaxanthin and other certain red seaweeds can offer a reddish hue. They offer a natural alternative to synthetic dyes and can also provide additional nutritional benefits.

Q: What's the shelf life of these algae and seaweed-based ingredients?

Dried forms generally have a longer shelf life, often up to two years if stored in cool, dark conditions. Fresh or rehydrated forms might have a shelf life of a week to a month, depending on the specific ingredient and storage conditions. 

Q: Is seasonality a concern when sourcing these ingredients?

It depends. For seaweed that is grown in the ocean, there are specific growing and harvesting seasons that vary by type of seaweed and region of the world. Availability can vary with the seasons. However, many suppliers might have storage facilities that allow them to offer products year-round. There are many types of algae that are grown in indoor controlled settings and are harvested year-round. 

Q: What questions should I ask suppliers to ensure a consistent and reliable supply chain for seaweed and algae as ingredients?

Inquire about their harvesting or cultivation cycles, production capacities, backup sourcing strategies, and how they handle demand surges. You should also require heavy metal testing and a certificate of analysis to be completed by a 3rd party. This will give you an idea of their reliability during market fluctuations.

Q: Can suppliers typically provide samples for R&D and initial product testing?

Most established suppliers will be able to provide small samples for testing purposes. It’s crucial to conduct preliminary tests with these samples to ensure the ingredient aligns with the product's development goals before placing large orders.

Q: Where can I procure reliable algae and seaweed for my business?

There is a lack of standards and guidelines when it comes to procuring and using algae as a beverage ingredient. As a result of this and the variability in quality that exists, we recommend either: 1) Work directly with a seaweed/algae farmer or processor with deep knowledge of their products; or 2) Work with a strategic sourcing specialist with experience in algae. They can help save you a tremendous amount of time, ensure product quality, and help you navigate the waters in this emerging industry. 

Q: What other types of algae can be used as beverage ingredients?

Aside from popular choices like spirulina and chlorella, other algae such as dulse and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) can be used in beverages for their unique flavors and nutrient profiles. Additionally, sea lettuce, also known as Ulva, can add a marine flavor and a boost of vitamins and minerals to green smoothies.

Algae-derived compounds are also utilized in beverages, adding both texture and potential health benefits. Fucoidan, found in brown algae, is noted for supporting the immune system, while carrageenan, derived from red algae, serves as a thickener and stabilizer in various drinks. Lastly, alginate, also from brown algae, helps maintain the consistency in fruit juices. It is important to understand that some extracts like agar, carrageenan, and alginates may be made using a synthetic process and may not contain the health benefits associated with other forms of algae and seaweed.

B2B Procurement Tips

Be clear on the end application

There are no set industry standards or guidelines that have been established when sourcing algae and seaweed. As each species of algae and seaweed carry different properties and tastes, it is important for businesses to have a good idea of the end application and properties they are seeking. This will determine the best type of algae and format for any specific use case. 

Take time to really understand your supply chain

It is critical for businesses to take time to understand the supply chain when making a purchasing decision. Algae and seaweed have high variability when it comes to nutritional content and potential contaminants.  It is important that when sourcing algae and seaweed that you can confirm nutritional content and that the supplier has the product tested for certain metals and contaminants by a verifiable 3rd party. It is also important to understand the cultivation method as it will help you determine what factors to take into account when purchasing. Algae and seaweed can be cultivated offshore or on-land, as well as through indoor controlled environments. 

Build trust and transparency into your supply chains 

There are endless supplement options on the market today. A quick search on Google or Amazon will have you feeling overwhelmed. Many commercially-available supplement options contain low quality ingredients, unclear formulations, and no transparency around their supply chains. The supplement craze has turned more into a game of marketing vs being serious about improving human health and performance.  If you dive deeper into the industry, the most successful supplements companies take the time upfront to research and source the highest quality ingredients and refine their formulations based on intended outcomes they are seeking. They also build trust with their customers on being more transparent around their ingredients, supply chain, and production process. 

Build quality control into your contract

When issuing a purchase order or a longer-term supply contract, make sure to outline specific conditions and requirements around nutrition and product safety. This will ensure the supplier is meeting your quality standards before accepting the product.

Focus on recurring orders vs spot purchases

Due to market fluctuations and seasonality of growing seasons for many types of algae and seaweeds, it is much better to set up longer-term supply contracts well ahead of time with suppliers. It will allow you to establish a consistent price and build a more robust supply chain. It will also allow the supplier to plan ahead and invest in their own growth so they can bring costs down.  

Diversify the supplier base

If your business is just starting to purchase algae and seaweed, it is recommended to working with 3-4 suppliers to find the best fit. There are farmers and processors that have different goals on what customers they are set up to serve and growth they want to achieve. You want to find the options that are the best fit for your broader strategic goals. Lastly, by diversifying the supplier base upfront, it allows businesses to create resiliency in their supply chains. 

Use a third party escrow service

When purchasing algae and seaweed, it is recommended that buyers use a 3rd party escrow service, especially when sourcing internationally. This is often something many folks overlook, but due to the variability of quality, using a third party escrow service allows the buyer to protect money and ensure the product meets their standards. 

If you are looking for more information on sourcing or procuring algae and seaweed, feel free to contact Cultured Supply to talk with a procurement specialist to gain access to our network of dependable suppliers.

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