The ability of algae to produce omega-3 oils makes them suitable for replacing increasingly price volatile fish oil and fishmeal products, especially aquaculture feeds.
Today, the algae industry produces just 9,000 metric tons (MT) dry weight of product annually but given the right support and investment, it could be conducted on a much larger scale.
A new report, “Algae: A Brave New Industry,” compiled by Rabobank International, looks at how algae products could play a more important role in aquaculture in future.
The development of a farming industry is essential for the success of algae, according to the report. However, at present there are too few commercial algae growers who have been able to get investment, because the risks are considered too high. In Rabobank’s view, algae production is reaching a “tipping point,” where it goes from being a product with potential to a potential game-changer.
With the aquafeed market worth an estimated USD 24.6 billion (EUR 22.2 billion) in 2014, and forecast to grow to USD 30 billion (EUR 27.1 billion) by 2020, leading companies in the sector are increasingly looking at ways in which algae and other ingredients can play a greater role in their product portfolio. The salmon industry, which is responsible for the consumption of around 350,000 MT of fish oil annually, is actively looking for sustainable alternative sources.
At the same time, the growing demand for fishmeal will intensify the pressure on prices. At USD 1.30 (EUR 1.17) per kg protein, fishmeal prices are currently much lower than the best-case price for microalgae of USD 1.65 (EUR 1.49) per kg protein, but with technological improvements and lower costs for production, algae can quickly become competitive in price.
This, said Rabobank, will result in the growing commercialization of algae products and make it an appealing ingredient for a number of other industries too.
Source: Jason Holland, SeafoodSource.com. Read the full story here.