Seaweed startup unveils non-synthetic food ingredient to replace methylcellulose

Scotland’s Oceanium has launched the seaweed-derived Ocean Health Fibre, a one-to-one replacement for synthetic methylcellulose, a common food ingredient in the plant-based segment.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
25 November 2022, at 9:38am
ingredient being loaded onto a petri dish
Ocean Health Fibre can replace methylcellulose, a synthetic ingredient modified from cellulose

Oceanium's new food ingredient can be used in the plant-based meats sector and the gluten-free segment © Oceanium

Oceanium has leveraged its pioneering biorefinery process for seaweed to create Ocean Health Fibre. The new ingredient can replace methylcellulose, a synthetic ingredient modified from cellulose. Methylcellulose is widely used in plant-based meats as a binder and emulsifier – and is a prime candidate for ingredient replacement because of its synthetic composition.

According to the company, Ocean Health Fibre offers improved moisture retention and water binding ability, as well as texture, viscosity and gelling capabilities to finished products. It delivers equivalent functional properties and enhanced organoleptic characteristics that may reduce the need for added salt.

Karen Scofield Seal, CEO and co-founder of Oceanium said, “we are thrilled to be launching one of our first products – Ocean health Fibre. This is a very exciting step for Oceanium, as it provides an excellent opportunity to partner with companies on a novel ingredient. We look forward to working closely with the seaweed farming community and mission-aligned end users to build a sustainable value chain that benefits people health and planet health.”

Oceanium’s in-house food scientists and B2B collaborators have tested and proved its versatility in plant-based meats as well as several additional applications, including gluten-free breads and beverages. The ingredient contains 69 percent dietary fibre, consisting of both soluble and insoluble fibres. It also contains a mixture of proteins and minerals while providing a umami taste which can add complex flavour dimensions to finished food products.

Dr Iain Moore, food scientist for Oceanium said, “Ocean Health Fibre is a unique product with great functionality due to its natural combination of insoluble and soluble polysaccharides. This gives it a significant thickening effect at both low and high temperatures, similar to methylcellulose. It is also a very effective water binder which can increase the moistness of breads, particularly in gluten-free recipes.”

Ocean Health Fibre will be commercially available in Q1 of 2023 and samples are being made available for mission-aligned brands that want to integrate more sustainable and functional ingredients into their portfolios.