Non-profit Alt-Protein welcomes new EU algae strategy

The new European Union seaweed strategy is committed to stimulating research into the production of sustainable ingredients. These plans could accelerate the development of animal-free seafood, helping to provide Europeans with healthy diets, tackle overfishing and reduce the bloc’s reliance on seafood imports.

The strategy aims to support algae production methods that, in some cases, can grow faster, be harvested more regularly and use fewer resources than land-based crops. It can be used to improve the flavor, texture and nutritional value of plant-based and cell-cultured seafood – helping to provide some of the 24kg of seafood eaten by EU citizen every year.

In the strategy, the European Commission commits (p15) to:

  • “Support, through Horizon Europe and other EU research programmes, the development of new and improved algae processing systems and new methods of producing high-value compounds traditionally derived from algae (e.g. example, biorefineries, precision fermentation, cell-free systems), algae processing to manufacture circular biobased products for multiple applications”.
  • “Together with Member States, support through Horizon Europe and other EU research programs the development of better and scalable algae farming systems (such as Integrated Multitropical Aquaculture (IMTA), multi-use sea, offshore culture, photobioreactors and algoponics) or methods (such as cell mariculture and pond macroalgae) to address the current technical constraints of macroalgae and microalgae production systems.

The strategy follows the recognition by the European Commission, in its 2020 report on the blue bioeconomy, the potential of cultured seafood to meet growing demand for protein while easing pressure on fishing. The same report also acknowledged that the lack of funding for research in this field remains one of the main obstacles to its success in Europe.

The Good Food Institute (GFI), an international non-profit organization working to advance cultured and plant-based meat and seafood, welcomed the announcement.

GFI has funded research into the use of seaweed for raise sea bass filletsand assess whether it can be used to help reduce production costs of cultured seafood.

Precision fermentation is another sustainable protein production method, using cells as miniature factories to produce a wide range of ingredients. This method can be applied to seaweed to produce sustainable omega-3s as an essential ingredient for plant-based and cultured seafood.

Elena Walden, Senior Policy Officer at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “It is great to see the European Commission supporting new ways of producing sustainable ingredients. Technological advances in this area could accelerate the development of plant-based and cultured seafood, which can provide millions of Europeans with the seafood they love without further harming our oceans.

“We now need to see these encouraging words backed by targeted R&D investment to help develop a thriving alternative European seafood industry – much needed as the continent currently imports three times more seafood than it currently imports. into product, and nearly half of the EU’s marine habitats are assessed as threatened. or almost threatened.

GFIs state of the industry report includes more information on the global seafood alternative industry.

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