Food and feed products from micro-algae: Market opportunities and challenges for the EU

Vigani, M.; Parisi, C.; Rodriguez-Cerezo, E.; Barbosa, M.J.; Sijtsma, L.; Ploeg, M.; Enzing, C.


Micro-algae are a new and promising source of nutrients. The main products obtainable are dried algae with high nutrients content and high-value compounds such as fatty acids, pigments and anti-oxidants. This paper analyses the market and the economic opportunities of micro-algae-based food and feed sectors in the EU through an integrated methodology composed by literature search, interviews to experts and Delphi survey. Results show that the quantities produced and the market size of nutrients obtained from micro-algae are still significantly smaller in comparison to the ones derived from cereals and other commodity crops, but that the sector has seen an impressive and unique growth. Despite the challenges due to the climatic conditions together with the insufficient domestic demand and the complexity of the EU Novel Food regulation, the survey revealed that the EU can improve its market position in the next decade, thanks to its scientific and technological capacity and its dominant position in the global agri-food markets. New micro-algae-based products can be developed for foreign markets, and the improved global production share of European firms (presently of about 5%) may be the result of strategic acquisitions of foreign companies.