SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO and LESTREM, FRANCE — Solazyme, Inc. and Roquette Freres have signed a joint venture agreement to produce, commercialize and develop the market for microalgae-derived food ingredients, subject to regulatory approvals and notifications, the two companies said Nov. 8. The joint venture, Solazyme-Roquette Nutritionals, will begin operating early in 2011. The company plans to launch a variety of oil, protein and fiber-based products.

“Solazyme and Roquette share a very clearly-defined vision that microalgae will provide a major new class of food ingredients, and we enter this j.v. very enthusiastic about the future,” said Guy Talbourdet, chief executive officer of Lestrem-based Roquette.

Jonathan Wolfson, c.e.o. of South San Francisco-based Solazyme, will serve as c.e.o. of Solazyme-Roquette Nutritionals. Roquette, a starch and starch derivatives company, will fund and build a commercial-scale manufacturing plant that the joint venture will own. The plant’s annual production capacity will be in the tens of thousands of tons, and it will be located at a Roquette corn wet milling plant. Roquette also will provide upfront licensing payments to Solazyme and working capital to fund the joint venture until reaching profitability.

While Solazyme has microalgae-based technology, Roquette has been developing a microalgal nutritional platform while selling algae-based nutritional products.

“Roquette is a family-owned company with outstanding values, which create the basis for a long-term relationship with Solazyme,” Mr. Wolfson said. “Combined with Solazyme’s technology, the joint venture is extremely well-equipped to commercialize revolutionary natural products into the food industry that provide all of the performance benefits consumers have come to expect, while providing the improved nutritional profiles they deserve.”

Marc Roquette, chairman of Roquette, said, “We believe that along with Roquette, Solazyme possesses the most innovative microalgal food ingredient technology in the world, and we look forward to using our extensive skills and assets to help bring this technology to market.”