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   June 24, 2021

The market trend and consumer's growing interest in natural and healthy products have forced researchers and industry to develop novel products with functional ingredients. Microalgae have been recognized as a source of functional ingredients with positive health effects since these microorganisms produce polyunsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, natural pigments, essential minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and bioactive peptides.

Omega-3 fatty acids have several health benefits, such as preventing heart disease, healing atherosclerosis, and anti-aging. Linolenic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are some natural omega-3 fatty acids. Usually, these omega-3 fatty acids are derived from fish oil, but indications suggest that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil come from zooplankton, which consumes spirulina. Thus, microalgae are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Algal PUFA production is more economical than biofuel production, and hence several large-scale producers are now focusing on nutritional PUFA production instead of biofuels. Spirulina is one of the most prominent microalgae due to its high production of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, phenolic compounds, volatile compounds, sterols, proteins, amino acids, peptides, vitamins, polysaccharides, pigments, and food. It contains 15.8% lipid with 4.9% omega-3 fatty acid.

Due to shortcomings of fish-derived oil, including undesirable taste & odor, diminishing supplies, chemical processing methods, and presence of contaminants, such as mercury, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls, the omega-3 fatty acids production has been diverted towards the microalgae (spirulina), which offers a promising non-polluted resource of omega-3 fatty acid as an alternative to fish oil.

In November 2016, Cellana, Inc. and PIVEG, Inc. signed a letter of intent for the joint development and commercialization of Omega-3 oils and other high-value applications from microalgae biomass. DSM and Evonik announced a joint development agreement for omega-3 fatty acids from natural marine microalgae for animal nutrition. Also, the omega-3 fatty acids in spirulina platensis prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the body. Hence, due to the several health benefits and strategic developments of leading players related to spirulina sourced omega-3 fatty acids, spirulina is considered an emerging non-polluted resource of omega-3 fatty acid, ultimately pushing up its demand across the globe.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, from February 2013 to April 2016, there were 353 new globally launched products that contained chlorella in various food categories, such as pet food, bakery, and desserts/ice cream. Japan witnessed the highest new product launches, with a total of 151. With most of its products in the juices, other beverages, and snacks subcategories. The U.S. had the second-largest number of new products containing chlorella. South Korea introduced the third largest new products, most of which were in the sauces and seasonings, bakery products, and baby food subcategories. Canada had a total of 13 new products with chlorella, with the majority being beverages and snacks. Hence, many new product launches with chlorella are expected to spur its demand from food and beverage manufacturers.

Nisshin Pet Food had the most launches of new products containing chlorella, with 73 new products in the food and beverage category. Also, Tohato launched 21 new food products containing chlorella during the review period, 16 of which were sweet biscuits/cookies, 4 of which were corn-based snacks, and 1 was a potato snack. Further, the U.S.-based company, Suja Life, launched six new juice products containing chlorella, three nectars, and two fruit/flavored drinks.

Moreover, in October 2018, the Good Spoon, a range of vegan mayo’s swapped egg yolk with chlorella. The company is also aiming to penetrate the European market with its plant-based mayonnaise alternatives. Thus, owing to the increasing applications of chlorella in a range of food products, there is an increasing demand for chlorella from the food and beverages industry which is expected to drive the microalgae market. Meticulous Research®, in its latest publication on ‘Microalgae Market,’ states that the microalgae market is expected to reach $1.8 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 10.3% during the forecast period 2021 to 2028.

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