The new name was unveiled as the San Francisco-based firm appointed ex Campbell Soup exec Irene Chang Britt to its board and raised $28m in a financing round backed by high profile investors and entrepreneurs including Glenhill Capital, VMG Partners, PowerPlant Ventures, Charles Chang, ARTIS Ventures, Simon Equities, Jack Davis and Keith Belling.
Solazyme – which originally hoped to make a splash in the alternative energy market but gradually learned that food and super-premium face cream were better bets - has developed microalgae-based ingredients used in everything from surfactants and detergents to industrial lubricants, tires, soap and carpets.
However, food, nutrition and personal care offer some of the most exciting opportunities, said CEO Jonathan Wolfson, who will assume the role of executive chairman at TerraVia after a new CEO has been appointed so he can take on a more strategic role in the business.
“We will be pursuing strategic alternatives over the next 12-18 months to unlock the value created [in the industrial products division]. Solazyme’s objective is to identify partners who have the operational capabilities needed to realize the potential of those businesses.”
The platform we’re developing has the ability to redefine the future of food
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA about the restructure, Wolfson acknowledged that it had taken a long time for the food business to gain traction, which was in part a reflection of the lengthy product development cycles of many food companies.
But it also reflected the fact that the company was doing something genuinely new, he said. “The platform we’re developing has the ability to redefine the future of food. Algae is the mother of all plants, the world’s original superfood. But it’s completely new to the food industry and true innovation takes time.
“Take Thrive (culinary algae oil), there really isn’t anything out there like it, and I feel that with food, it’s taken a while, but we are truly at an inflection point now.”
Different skill sets
Asked why it made sense to separate out the food/nutrition/specialty and industrial businesses, he added: “These products are very different, there are different skills and different customers and in order for the opportunity that we really believe that exists in food and nutrition to flourish we need to give it a real concentrated focus.”
The TerraVia portfolio includes:
- Specialty food ingredients: AlgaVia whole algae ingredients (lipid rich powder and protein, manufactured in Peoria, IL) and AlgaWise oils (made in Brazil as part of JV with Bunge), with customers including Hormel, Utz, Enjoy Life Foods, So Delicious (WhiteWave Foods), Soylent and Follow Your Heart (click HERE). Structuring fats (algae butter) coming soon (click HERE).
- Consumer foods: Thrive culinary algae oil (click HERE).
- Animal nutrition ingredients: Coming soon…
- Specialty personal care ingredients: Includes AlgaPur Oils; major customers include Unilever.
Watch SVP Mark Brooks at the IFT show last year: