Spirulina: when tasty meets healthy
“Super green me!” This collaborative innovation project centred on spirulina is led by Algae West Store. We talked to the company’s co-managers Corinne Malardé, during the 1st edition of Agro Days Normandie on 21st April, and Christine Cassier.
The main objective of the “PIM’S” project was to make the consumption of spirulina more accessible to our customers by designing “ready-to-eat” products tailored to active, on-the-go lifestyles while preserving the nutritional qualities of the spirulina incorporated in food matrices such as biscuits, snacks, and so on. Tasty and healthy rolled into one!
For me, this project is innovative in several respects: first, for having demonstrated the preservation of spirulina’s nutritional values in the food processes implemented by our partners, Biscuiterie de l’Abbaye and Europe Snacks. We have, in a way, opened up the gateway of possibilities for enhancing the use of our raw material spirulina and demonstrated its potential to be incorporated in food.
Spirulina is a foodstuff in its own right. Yet consuming it in France where we don’t have an “algae” cooking culture is a real challenge. We therefore needed to add a second stage to the PIM’S rocket and find out how to communicate on the health benefits of spirulina. With Actalia Innovation, we decided on the product name “Super Green Me” and a fun, modern, witty image to portray our micro-algae which are a powerhouse of essential nutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron, helping to combat fatigue.
In the end, it’s our consumers who are best placed to tell you whether we have succeeded by enticing them to consume Spirulina (and other algae) and to try out alternatives to animal proteins.
For us, innovation is above all a value creation process which is reflected in competitive terms. In the case of Algae West Store, through our innovation approach we have given the company a clear boost to ensure its future.
This was our primary, and highly strategic, goal: to create value in order to create 2 jobs.
The project is currently reaching completion. We have accomplished most of the technical product design phase. Pre-series are scheduled to be produced from June. The products will then undergo consumer tests conducted by Actalia Innovation with target consumers. Their feedback will be used to improve our products with a view to the market launch of the final version before the end of 2016.
An innovative collaborative project is first and foremost a human adventure. It is inevitably a learning experience. PIM’S is a valuable development opportunity for us which micro-businesses like ours would struggle to access without an innovation approach.
Actalia Innovation’s input has been a determining factor and helped us to shift our mindset and adopt a consumer-centric approach rather than a product-centric approach. Collaborating with partners the size of the Biscuiterie de l’Abbaye and Europe Snacks naturally opened doors that as a micro-business we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to access.
On the other hand, the R&D budget is a particularly heavy burden for us. Meanwhile, we have to keep the business going. Time is also a limiting factor in the project. Success lies in considering and striking a balance between all the partners’ viewpoints and constraints.
Valorial helped us to define and structure the market dimension of the project and its commercial development goals. The cluster also guided us in our search for partners able to help us bring our project to fruition. Valorial’s approval reinforces our project’s credibility and is an asset in terms of communication, which was an important point given our small business size.
Corinne Malardé & Christine Cassier - Algae West Store