Special focus: The ever-expanding potential of algae

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

Special focus: The ever-expanding potential of algae

Related tags: Algae, Omega-3 fatty acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid

Algae-derived nutraceuticals are beginning to move beyond the established champions of omega-3 fatty acids, spirulina and astaxanthin. In this special article/newsletter, we round-up the top news about algae on NutraIngredients-USA over the past couple of months.

Quick disclaimer: This is a round-up of articles published on NutraIngredients-USA this summer, and not an exhaustive examination of the algal sector.

Emerging companies include Algal Scientific (beta-glucan but only for feed so far​) and Algaeon (beta-glucan and astaxanthin​), and Cerule, which has a proprietary nutraceutical derived from spirulina (more about them after SupplySide West).

Work continues in the omega-3 space, with companies such as Superior Ecotech exploring the use of waste streams from a local Colorado brewery to produce algal omega-3s​, and Canada’s Solarvest expanding its organic algal DHA production to Europe​.

The red hot astaxanthin sector is dominated by three main companies: Algatechnologies, Cyanotech, and Fuji Industries, with Valensa expanding its astaxanthin presence in recent years from biomass supplied by its parent company Parry Nutraceuticals of India and from other suppliers.

Algatechnologies, which has long used the closed tube system to produce the photosynthetic algae Haematococcus pluvialis​, recently signed an R&D deal with German company SCHOTT AG​ to boost the productivity of its closed-tube cultivation system at its plant in the Negev region of southern Israel.

Avoca, a division of New Jersey ingredient supplier Pharmachem Laboratories, signed a deal to commercialize astaxanthin with biotech company Synthetic Genomics Inc in July​.  SGI has been working on developing its particular strain of Haematococcus pluvias​ for some time.  The production facility is located in the Imperial Valley about 2 hours east of San Diego, making for a unique story for the product, according to Paul Borrell, vice president of marketing and sales with Pharmachem. 

More astaxanthin news involved Gilbert, AZ-based Heliae​, which announced in July that it was teaming up with Sincere Corporation to develop a commercial algae production facility in Saga City, Japan. Heliae is a spinoff from Arizona State University in nearby Tempe, where research into algae production systems has been underway for decades.

Staying in the Grand Canyon State, the Arizona Center for Algae Research and Innovation (AzCATI) has emerged as one of the world’s foremost centers of research on algae production. Our August 26 article took a closer look at this hot bed of algal research​, which has worked with a number of companies including Heliae, Health Enhancement Products Inc. (HEPI), Cellana and Florida Algae.

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