Euglena, a nutrient-rich, green single-celled organism that features the characteristics of both plants and animals, is starting to win fans as a food item.
Some restaurants and convenience store chains have even started developing new dishes and items that contain euglena, which has often been classified as an algae.
Individual euglena are about 0.05 mm in length and have chloroplasts, where photosynthesis takes place in the manner of plants. But they can also move around using their flagella.
Powdered euglena looks like green tea powder and tastes like dried sardine flakes. The nutritional value comes from minerals and vitamins as well as docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 acid found in some fish species that serves to decrease neutral fat.
Powdered euglena comes from a Tokyo-based venture company named Euglena Corp., which makes the product on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa.
Companies that have introduced powdered euglena are getting favorable responses from customers.
In October the Denny’s restaurant chain started serving a hamburger steak platter containing 0.3 grams of euglena powder. Initially, the dish — being offered at about 380 outlets across the country — was only going to be served until late November, but it was so popular that it will stay on the menu until the end of March.
Convenience store chains FamilyMart, Circle K and Thanks, as well as supermarket chains, have been selling an aloe yogurt with euglena since November. The product is popular among customers in their 30s through 50s.
Meanwhile, 12 restaurants in the Jiyugaoka district in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, are jointly promoting items containing euglena, including cakes and cocktails, through the end of March.