Using red seaweed protein for plant-based meat

2019-2021

Trophic is a startup focused on developing sustainable, meaty, and nutritious plant-based protein from the ocean.

PRODUCTION PLATFORM: Plant-based

TECHNOLOGY SECTOR:  Ingredient Optimization

Gfi's competitive research grants program badge, featuring a whole cut of meat within a magnifying glass representing research

Project aims

Ocean plants like seaweeds can be used for many things, including foods and ingredients. But so far, seaweed protein has been underutilized as an alternative protein source. Trophic’s GFI-funded research focuses on characterizing red seaweed proteins for plant-based meat.

Phase 1: Optimizing red seaweed protein extraction

Phase 1 of this project optimizes protein extraction processes in red seaweeds to meet quality specifications for plant-based products. Specifically, Phase 1 assesses the suitability of different red seaweed species for cost-effective protein and characterizes taste, texture, and formulation properties of protein concentrates and isolates from red seaweeds.

This work will develop new ingredients for plant-based meat from a source that already has a large global supply chain, high protein content, outstanding umami flavor profile, and red color. It will also add value to red seaweed protein, a current side stream of agar and carrageenan production.

Phase 2: Characterizing sensory attributes

Phase 2 of this project characterizes the sensory attributes of seaweed ingredients, leading to the creation of new plant-based meat products using seaweed protein as a primary ingredient.

This work will advance our understanding of seaweed proteins’ utility in plant-based meat production, which could improve the sustainability of plant-based meat and enhance organoleptic properties in certain applications.

Principal researchers

2019-2020

Beth zotter, ceo, trophic llc, usa

Beth Zotter

CEO, Trophic LLC, USA

Ms. Zotter has expertise in environmental science, public policy, and the intersection of technology, economics, and policy. She leads a venture in marine protein and fuel sources and works with the start-up companies at Cyclotron Road. She also serves as principal investigator for a project funded by the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program to demonstrate high-yield, low-cost, and scalable systems for offshore seaweed production.

2020-2021

Dr. Amanda stiles, cto, trophic llc, usa

Dr. Amanda Stiles

CTO, Trophic LLC, USA

Dr. Stiles has a history of private sector success, having previously led the research team at plant-based milk company Ripple Foods. She focuses her research on protein biochemistry, including protein purification, ingredient functionality, and sensory evaluation.

Trophic company name overlaid on image of sun rays shining through the water

Sourcing sustainable protein

We usually think of crop farming as a land-based activity. Find out why Trophic says the oceans are the ultimate source of sustainable protein.

View related grant projects

Red seaweed

Texturizing seaweed proteins

Learn about Dr. Yoav Livney’s work at The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology texturizing seaweed proteins for plant-based seafood.

Oats in a bowl against a blue background, a possible new ingredient for plant-based meat

Oat protein fermentation

Learn about cutting-edge research to use fermented oat protein to develop plant-based meat.

Plant-based minced meat

Proteins under pressure

Learn about Dr. Ciara McDonnell’s work to establish high-pressure processing and high-pressure thermal processing parameters for plant proteins.

Steel fermentation tanks

Fermenting flavor bases

Learn about GFI research grantee BZ Goldberg’s work at The Mediterranean Food Lab to develop better flavors for plant-based meat using fermentation.

Explore research opportunities

  • Cultivated icon Cultivated
  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
  • Plant-based icon Plant-Based

Plant-based category marketing

Interest in plant-based products is growing, but many consumers still express skepticism about plant protein foods, or simply lack familiarity with the category. Category marketing campaigns to promote plant-based and…

Read More
  • Cultivated icon Cultivated
  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
  • Plant-based icon Plant-Based

Facilitating import and export of alternative protein products

Many alternative protein companies are interested in exporting their products or ingredients, and this is matched by interest from businesses in many countries eager to import exciting products. But import/export…

Read More
  • Cultivated icon Cultivated
  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
  • Plant-based icon Plant-Based

Animal ingredient substitution

Enabling easy animal ingredient substitutions in a wide range of food products.

Read More
Research grants banner

Is red seaweed the next big thing in plant-based protein?

With funding from GFI’s competitive grant program, Beth Zotter is researching a unique source of plant-based protein: red seaweed. Red seaweed has a high protein content and a remarkable umami…

A school of fish swimming along a reef underwater

Sustainable Seafood Initiative

Learn how plant-based, fermentation-derived, and cultivated seafood can improve the health and sustainability of oceans.