Investment needed before algae oil can meet aquaculture demands

[USA] Investment is needed to scale up algae oil production and, thus, meet aquaculture demands, Leslie van der Meulen, chairman of the board of directors at GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s) told Undercurrent News.

Global production of algal omega 3 in 2014 was over 1,400 metric tons, a slight increase from 1,380t two years earlier, but still it “nothing compared” to the volumes that Peru produces, with a fish oil production that is expected to reach 650,000t in 2015.

So far, practically all omega 3 oil produced from algae is for human consumption, as production for aquaculture requires a “significant investment” to take off, Van der Meulen said.

“Right now, algae processors are focused on human nutrition in order to generate steady revenues, and from there they will go into other markets,” he said, adding that “collaboration is needed in order to get algae into aquaculture.”

Today, aquaculture companies seem to be “more interested in building a long term future” and collaborate, so prices of algae oil for fish feed are hoped to meet the “commodity price” of fish oil over time.

“This requires a long term commitment,” Van der Meulen said.

“They [aquaculture players] are willing to understand that, in the beginning, algae oil will be more expensive than they would like, they have to go through that process, but with investment production will scale ultimately,” he said.

Although “it is difficult” to determine when this could happen, “things can accelerate by technological development,” Van der Meulen said.

On the other hand, algae could be bought by the aquaculture companies as a “smaller component” or “specialty diet” so algae processors do not to have to produce large volumes.

However, right now the only market application is the whole algae, which means not separating the oil from the meal, Van der Meulen said.

“When you grow algae, about 20% to 25% of the biomass is oil, and the other 75% is like a protein meal, so still you have to find value for that in order to sell the oil competitively,” he said.

“That’s something that will take a little bit more of time and skill. Right now algae companies are not nearly producing as much as the aquaculture companies need,” Van der Meulen said.


View original article at: GOED chairman: Investment needed before algae oil can meet aquaculture demands

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