TEL HAI, ISRAEL — Marine ingredient startup Yemoja Ltd. is developing a red microalgae for plant-based burgers and steaks. Branded Ounje, the formulation mimics the red juices of animal meat without the need for artificial colors, according to the company.

The red algae ingredient is grown indoors in photobioreactors. When combined with other derivatives from the same Porphyridium strain of algae, it serves as a plant-based heme substitute for the cultured meat and plant-based meat sectors.

“This specific composition yields a substance that resembles blood in appearance and texture,” said Amikam Bar-Gil, co-founder and chief technology officer at Yemoja.

In addition to providing the initial red pigment to raw plant-based meats, the patented microalgal heme substitute browns and congeals like real meat juices when cooked, he added. With a 20% to 30% protein load and complete essential amino acid profile, it also gives an added nutrient boost to finished products.

Yemoja produces its Ounje formulation via a cold process without using organic solvents. It is piloting the ingredient with a plant-based startup and a cultured meat producer.