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Seaweed driving product development at Algaia

March 21, 2017
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Following the acquisition of Cargill’s plant, Algaia is now producing and selling a range of alginates from a facility with more than 40 years experience in manufacturing brown seaweed extracts.

Gaynor Selby writes in FoodIngredientsFirst that seaweed, with its many varieties, is poised to become the next super green superfood, and is finding new product applications in Western markets due to its wide ranging health benefits.

Algaia, with headquarters in Paris, France, recently bolstered its growth in specialty marine ingredients by completing the acquisition of Cargill’s alginate business and manufacturing plant, further strengthening its portfolio following another acquisition, of Alganact SA. The start-up company specializes in seaweed biomass valorization.

According to CEO of Algaia, Fabrice Bohin, sustainability is a key driver pushing the seaweed products space. “The main driver for the increasing interest towards seaweeds is linked to consumer pressure for natural products with a healthy nutritional profile but also the mainstream trend towards sustainability. Seaweed is one of the most sustainable raw materials as it consumes CO2 when growing and does not require any irrigation water, cultivation land, pesticides or fertilizers to grow. In addition, there are a lot of possibilities to naturally cultivate seaweed to expand the resource if needed without impacting the planet,” Mr. Bohin told FoodIngredientsFirst. 

Today only around 20% of seaweed biomass when processed is currently being used, he said, mostly as texturizing agents like carrageenans and alginates. “Algaia is gearing up to become a major player in innovative specialty seaweed extracts. Our R&D center, in partnership with various universities and institutes, has been working to develop innovative extraction processes that will enable us to introduce new solutions for the food industry by 2018.”

Currently Algaia offers a large range of brown and red seaweed based extracts such as alginates and carrageenans, backed up by developing specific customized solutions and decades of manufacturing experience dealing with very low and very high viscosity.

“In parallel, we develop with partners some specialty seaweed extracts for various health and personal care applications,” adds Mr. Bohin. “Seaweeds or microalgae are considered by many as an essential raw material that can play an important role in human health and nutrition in the future. Already known for decades as major texturizing or gelling agents, seaweeds are now expanding into the specialty ingredient market as they can be excellent sources of nutrients and are widely used as fat replacers or alternatives to animal based ingredients.”

“Producing seaweed extracts requires tremendous expertise and manufacturing skills,” he says. “The main challenges are to be able to produce high quality seaweed extracts sustainably and in sufficient quantities. Therefore, our control over sourcing and being located next to fresh biomass is a key element of differentiation and a guarantee for high quality and traceability.”

“This is precisely where Algaia can make a difference as we do have decades of expertise in-house and we just invested 2 million euros in our facility in Britanny, France, to allow us to grow even further while increasing production standards. Our R&D findings in terms of process are also helping to constantly innovate towards more sustainability.”

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