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Singapore first in Asia to taste food made from spirulina algae

SINGAPORE (June 26): Following the footsteps of companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, Israeli startup Simpliigood wants you to eat its food products made from spirulina – a type of algae. And Singapore will be its first market in Asia.

The fresh spirulina is packed tightly in a small pod, frozen, and shipped to stores and restaurants where it serves a growing population of urban consumers partial to superfood and vegan meat.

Simpliigood, also known as AlgaeMor, has partnered Singapore-based Sechel Asia to bring its products to Asia under a 50:50 joint venture called Simpliigood Asia.

Sechel is backed by Sassoon Investment Corporation, which is owned by the Sassoon family whose fortunes span from retail to real estate and venture debt. Simpliigood is the second partnership struck by Sechel. It plans to partner another four to five companies to help them break into Asia. It typically completes three deals a year.

Image: Simpliigood says its spirulina popsicles are popular among children in Israel. And it is nutritious too. A 20g pod of spirulina has all the proteins that an adult needs a day.

Simpliigood wants to partner restaurants that can come up with creative ways to use its algae.

It also hopes to sell directly to consumers here. Already sold in US, Europe and Israel, the green mush can be used to make biscuits, popsicles and other food products.

Founded by marine biologist Baruch Dach, Simpliigood grows and harvests algae in artificially-made freshwater ponds in Israel. Each pond produces 350kg of spirulina a month and is currently operating in full capacity.

Dach says if the product takes off in Asia, the company hopes to build a spirulina farm in Singapore. This would likely involved building an artificial pond.

The start-up is also currently raising US$5 million ($6.8 million) to build a new plant in Israel that could triple its capacity.

"We are looking at private equity and strategic investors that can add value to our business," says CEO Lior Shalev.

Image: Simpliigood CEO Lior Shalev wants to partner with restaurants that can come up with creative ways to use its algae.

According to Dach, the start-up is the first to have perfected large-scale commercialisation of fresh spirulina. There are a number of small companies including Bangkok-based EnerGaia and US-based Pond Technologies also trying to scale up the production of the green-blue algae.

Spirulina is known to have minimal carbon footprint; it uses far less water, land and utilities than other proteins.

While it is seen as a superfood with varying degree of health benefits, spirulina is touted as a cost-effective supplement for regions with food insecurity and malnutrition.

For this reason, the company has two small farms in poverty-stricken Congo and Ethiopia.

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