EC advances plans for sustainable algae production and use

18 November 2022 | Muriel Cozier

Development of algae cultivation has been hindered by a number of factors.

The European Commission has adopted what it calls a ‘pioneering initiative’ to develop the use of algae to its full potential. A document, entitled: Towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector sets out 23 actions to create opportunities to grow the algae sector to meet envisaged European Union (EU) demand. The EU is one of the world’s biggest importers of seaweed products, and demand is expected to reach €9 billion by 2030. Food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and energy production are set to be the drivers for this demand.

The 23 actions proposed by the Commission include: developing an algae farmers toolkit, development of standards for algae ingredients, assessing the market potential, efficiency and safety of algae-based material when used in fertiliser products, and supporting innovative SMEs and projects in the algae sector.

The Commission, the European Parliament and European Council are set to discuss the proposals and coordinate enacting the 23 actions with Member States, industry and other stakeholders. A report assessing progress of the implementation of the actions has been scheduled for release by the end of 2027.

This development in the Commission’s plans to promote the use of algae follows on from the release of a Roadmap for the blue economy. The Roadmap, which was the result of a consultation with some 300 stakeholders, concluded that the development of algae cultivation had been hindered by factors such as high production costs, low-scale production, limited knowledge of the markets and a fragmented governance framework.

The Roadmap has initiated the planning and development of several Commission-backed initiatives. The European Commission is also inviting all those involved in the algae sector to join its EU4Algae Forum, which was launched earlier this year.

The Commission asserts that a stronger European algae sector would support the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. The algae initiative also aims to make wider use of the seas and oceans as a resource. Farmed seafood has been identified as a low-carbon source of food and feed. The initiative also proposes action to reduce dependence on organic fertiliser, promoting the use of algae-based plant bio-stimulants instead.

On 1 December, SCI will be hosting a one-day event on Plant derived biostimulants for crop growth and protection, which aims to connect people along the value chain, from researchers, technology suppliers, bio-stimulant producers, regulatory representatives and end users. Speakers include Dr Ruta Nathinee, Syngenta Crop Protection AG.

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