Solazyme, the South San Francisco-based biofuel startup, has signed a deal to deliver large quantities of algal oil to Unilever. Under the agreement, announced this week, the Dutch consumer products giant will buy at least 10,000 metric tons (about three million gallons) of Solazyme's renewable, algae-derived oil.
The deal represents a major milestone for Solazyme, which was co-founded ten years ago by Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon (featured on The Big SHFT). Originally established as a biofuel business, Solazyme has since expanded its focus to making oils for high-margin products like skin and hair care, food and petrochemicals.
In Unilever's case, the company said it will use the oil for personal care products, which include Dove and Brylcreem. The agreement is part of Unilever's goal of doubling its business while while reducing its environmental footprint.
"We are committed to sourcing 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020," said Neal Matheson, Unilever’s Chief Technology Officer. “The relationship with Solazyme, which has been developed over several years, will help us honor this commitment, as their technology platform provides a unique opportunity to integrate sustainable raw materials into our production lines while positively impacting our environmental efforts and bringing better products to our consumers.”
The Unilever oil will be made at a plant it built in Brazil with Bunge, a large agribusiness and food company. Once fully operational, the plant could produce roughly 30 million gallons of oil a year.
Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times