The versatility and wide availability of marine vegetation is helping to push the industry of aquaculture in new directions.
New advancements in marine products could provide the next big hit for investors as the growing industry of aquaculture extends its reach. Aquaculture consists of the breeding and harvesting of aquatic organisms. The field is expanding worldwide at 7% per annum as traditional fishing methods lose popularity. However, the breadth of applications for marine life extends far past seafood.
Greensea is one of the companies exploring the immense potential of marine vegetation. Based in Mèze, France, the company primarily concentrates on microalgae. Lynk Knowledge Partner Jean-Paul Cadoret, Managing Director and CSO at Greensea, explained the range of possibilities for algae as an unexplored commodity.
“All the green plants that you know on land are coming from a group of algae probably 700 million years ago, or something similar. Red algae, brown algae – there is a tremendous amount of biology that never left the sea. Which means a lot of original biology is completely untapped.”
With millions of different variations and a breadth of suitable habitats, microalgae remain uniquely sustainable. Potential uses extend in many directions. For Greensea, 75% of its turnover comes from cosmetics. Their production ranges from skincare and hair products to coloring pigments for creams. According to Jean-Paul, these products hit all the prerequisites of the cosmetics industry.
“What the cosmetics industry wants is exclusive, original, and cheap.”
Due to the large demand for their work, Jean-Paul believes his company can double production. Greensea currently sells between 100 to 500 kilos of algae paste a week. However, the company has to be careful that prices remain at a reasonable level.
This growing increase in demand can be attributed to several things. First, interest towards aquaculture is growing on a general level as the seas continue to deplete. Unlike fishing, aquaculture is sustainable as it consists mainly of taking and growing a small piece of the sea. The growing sector now accounts for nearly 50% of the world’s fish.
Aquaculture is also seeing increased popularity in the field of agriculture. Additives can be produced from algae that help plants resist diseases and grow. As explained by Jean-Paul,
“The demand for biocontrol and biostimulation in agriculture across the world is very important. It is very very big. One of my friends created a company operating algae additives for golf courses. An extract from algae is formulated that can help the grass of golf courses to grow.”
Lastly, the large variety of microalgae, many of which are still being studied, provides a vast field of possibilities when it comes to innovative products. Jean-Paul noted that he is studying other uses of algae that could attract interest in the future.
“There are a lot of products that I am cultivating that are still to be studied further to ensure that they have an activity. To smell the trends in the world is very important.”
To boost growing interest even further, companies like Greensea are getting certified. When publicized, certifications show customers that a workplace has been inspected and complies with quality checks. Jean-Paul said certifications can increase the value of a company’s products.
“It is, of course, becoming a greater trend. The sea means for the clients natural, freedom, organic. It’s important for them to know a product is certified and natural. You can increase your self-price if you are certified.”
Moving forward, there is still much room to explore in terms of marine vegetation uses. One new application is to combat larvae diseases through pioneered food products. Potential losses of shrimp larvae due to a disease called the white spot virus amount to an estimated US$4 billion. Specific types of algae-based food could counter it. Such work has become another large part of Greensea’s market.
As aquaculture expands, finding harvesting locations will become important. According to Jean-Paul, Europe lacks sites due to competition with tourism and fisherman. Companies there can also face regulation. Asia, on the other hand, has a large amount of free areas prime for cultivating such as bays and coves. In 2014, aquaculture production in the Asia-pacific region contributed 88% of the total global production, with 35 countries producing more farmed than wild-caught fish. In the future, you can look towards Asia as a potential leading area in the industry
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