Algalimento project, a pilot plant for cultivating microalgae. (Photo: ITC)
Canary Islands produce microalgae for fish feed
Friday, August 16, 2013, 02:40 (GMT + 9)
The Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias (ITC) is promoting a project to develop new food products from microalgae biomass or their derivatives, which has just begun marketing the raw material for fish feed.
According to Sergio Cabrera, Development director of Grupo Satocan, one of the private partners involved in the project Algalimento, there is a market that is "quite interesting" for the raw material of fry breeding abroad.
Currently, commercial contacts are maintained in various Eastern European countries, Panama, Ecuador and Belgium, stated the entrepreneur.
Microalgae are rich in protein and highly digestible carbohydrates, and have a fatty fraction that can reach 70 per cent of its dry weight, which makes them particularly interesting from a nutritional standpoint, EFE agency reports.
Other valuable components present in microalgae are vitamins A, B, C and E; pro-vitamins and pigments such as chlorophyll, carotenoids (astaxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein) and phycobiliproteins, all of them having great commercial interest, explained the R&D director of ITC, Gonzalo Piernavieja.
As part of this project 1,000 square meters are farmed on the premises of ITC in Pozo Izquierdo and soon another 1,000 square meters will start being farmed, reaching 5,000 square metres, pointed out Piernavieja.
The researcher noted that microalgae are grown under the sun, so the climatic conditions are very favorable in Canary Islands.
In each 1,000 square metres between 6 and 10 tonnes of dry weight of microalgae can be grown per year and at present, several potential possibilities are being studied in pharmaceutical and food industries.
Globally, about 5,000 tonnes of dried microalgae are cultivated for around EUR 1,000 million.
Algalimento project was born thanks to the work of public and private sectors for the development of a commercial plant of microalgae biomass production for food.
The project has been joined by ITC, the companies Juliano Bonny and Gomez SL and Grupo Satocan Desarrollos SL and the Canary Foundation Lidia Garcia.
The initiative is undergoing the trial phase with production plants and the possibility of starting producing microalgae high in omega-3 and in beta-carotene to be used in food is being considered.
The project has a cost of EUR 3 million and was co-funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and European funds Feder.
By Analia Murias