June 30

A startup that ferments a “ghost protein” from algae to make plant-based milk has opened its first commercial factory in Israel.

Brevel, the company in question, says it will cultivate hundreds of tons of highly-nutritious microalgae powder every year in its huge indoor bioreactors. The 2,500 square meter production plant in Kiryat Gat is expected to start operating early next year. 

The company, founded in 2016 by brothers Yonatan, Matan and Ido Golan, has its own patented production method which combines sugar-based fermentation with high light concentrations to make protein that is then sold on to food companies for use in plant-based products.

The powder is called a ghost protein because of its neutral taste and color – unlike those commonly derived from pea or soy, which often pose flavor and texture challenges. 

Brevel’s product boosts the protein content in dairy alternatives and mimics the sensory experience associated with animal-derived products, but is around the same price as pea or soy.

The company will initially target the alternative dairy market, but their powder can also be used for meat alternatives.

CEO Yonatan Golan noted the complexity of combining fermentation and algae cultivation.

Co-founders (and brothers) Yonatan, Ido and Matan Golan. Photo by Eldad Shatz
Co-founders (and brothers) Yonatan, Ido and Matan Golan. Photo by Eldad Shatz

“Until now, fermentation has been confined to dark environments and is instrumental in producing extremely high yields. However, microalgae’s natural makeup of nutrients — including protein, lipids, fiber, and pigments — depend on photosynthesis [a process which requires light] for their development and growth,” he explained.

Brevel extracts the protein from microalgae belonging to the chlorella family, a type of green algae that naturally grows in water and which is said to have health benefits.

The end result is a white powder of up to 70% microalgae protein concentrate, containing all nine essential amino acids. Brevel’s unique “waste-free” production method means it’s highly cost-effective, as well as clean, non-GMO, and planet-friendly.

Brevel secured $18.5 million in investment last July, which is funding the current phase of commercial-scale production together with the company’s global outreach to plant-based food formulators and food manufacturers. Some of them are already strategic partners and investors in the company. 

“This new facility is just the beginning for Brevel,” said Ido Golan, the company’s CTO. “We will make a vital contribution to building a secure, resilient food value chain that will nourish future generations with a new supply line of affordable yet highly nutritious protein.” 

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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