"Spirulina is currently available on the market as a food supplement, so it can be found in tablet or powder form. We wanted to create something new and interesting by integrating this ingredient with more popular products such as chocolate and hemp (rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6)," explains Pierluigi Santoro, who came up with the idea together with Stefania Abbona, co-founder and CEO."
The two founders met at Wageningen University. Stefania's brother Nicola and other supporters also joined the project. "Combining algae with chocolate was a strategic choice because, although chocolate is not considered very healthy due to its sugar content, market research confirms consumption is on the up."
Spirulina is a powerful antioxidant and has a complete nutritional profile. It's a superfood and FAO considers it a sustainable food suitable to tackle world hunger. Spirulina means "small spiral" due to the shape of the algae. It contains 70% more protein than meat, it's rich in vitamins, mineral salts, Omega 3 and Omega 6 and also has 45 times the iron found in spinach, 35 times the betacarotene in carrots and 9 times the calcium in milk.
Spirulina production plant in Africa
"The spirulina we use comes from Africa. We cultivate it in open-top tanks in Togo and Madagascar. Local producers have been collaborating for years with Antenna Foundation, a Swiss NGO with the objective of preventing child malnutrition. In addition to producing the snack bars, we also want to implement the ethical and social aspect of the project. For this reason, 50% of the spirulina is used by the NGO for its humanitarian programmes. We are proud to be able to say that each bite helps African populations."
"We are very careful about producing high-quality spirulina, as we believe in this ingredient a lot. Spirulina is analysed by in Antenna Foundation's French laboratories as well as by Algae Factory at the Wageningen University labs."
The product range includes one snack with spirulina, raw 70% dark chocolate from Africa/South America or milk chocolate and hemp seeds from Puglia: the perfect combination between healthy and gourmet food.
"Due to the increasing demand, we have recently introduced the 100 gram format."
"We are also working with other algae to extract natural colouring for the food colouring industry. Our brand is starting to get recognised not only because of our snack bars, but also because we invest in research and events to promote alternative sources of protein."
"Together with the Spanish ALGA TARIFA, we will develop spirulina with even higher quality standards thanks to high-tech tube systems. 70% of the turnover is made abroad, in Holland, Germany, the UK and France in particular. We sell a lot via e-commerce, mainly to England, France and Holland as they have a more developed superfood culture."