The 10-year-old Portuguese company ALGAplus cultivates and pre-processes high-quality organic seaweed for both domestic and international food, cosmetic, feed additive, and green chemistry markets. It was established to fulfill a market need for the supply of natural, eco-friendly, and distinctive ingredients and products, both in terms of their functionality and origin: EU-farmed seaweed.
A valuable food source
Due to its high content in fibre, minerals, essential vitamins, and protein, as well as its low fat and salt content, seaweed has been used for millennia as “sea vegetables” and is a crucial component of a healthy diet. Seaweed is a vital ingredient for a low-impact sustainable diet from an environmental, economic, and social point of view. In addition to the dietary benefits associated with the consumption of this nutritive marine resource, scientific research from around the world demonstrates seaweed’s bioactivity and health advantages from the gut to the brain, contributing to preventing or lowering the risk of some 21st century diseases (nutrient deficiencies, NCDs like obesity, diabetes, and even cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases).
Although seaweed was initially thought of as food, feed, and fertilizer, it is now acknowledged as a special and extremely versatile resource that can also be used in or as cosmetics, nutraceutics, and biomaterials such as environmentally friendly packaging, just to name a few other applications.
Innovative seaweed production
The concept for ALGAplus was developed in 2006 by biologists with expertise in seaweed cultivation. It was not until 2011 that the company was formally established, when interest in seaweed was on the rise. In Europe, ALGAplus introduced an entirely novel idea based on the cultivation of marine algae, native to the Atlantic coast, in an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture system (IMTA). This method of farming replicates how the ecosystem functions naturally: algae grow solely from sunlight and nutrients left in the water by the fish (which are also raised at ALGAplus using organic methods), without the addition of fertilizer. In addition to producing these incredible foods and high-value resources, this system simultaneously provides a service to the ecosystem by limiting the release of nitrogen and carbon compounds and fostering the bioremediation of the aquatic environment.
The ALGAplus concept is based on refurbishing existing underutilised coastal infrastructures, creating a replicable system for other EU locations. Organic-certified seaweed is farmed and processed year-round in 14 hectares of ponds, tanks, and raceways located at the Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon under strict quality, traceability, and food-safety guidelines, all while preserving the ecosystems and biodiversity that are distinctive to the Atlantic coast.
A sustainable approach to business
ALGAplus truly understands the value of the business’s economic viability and environmental sustainability. Right from the start, the company has taken into high consideration its social impact, whether it be local, national or international, encompassing all aspects of the business, from suppliers to knowledge sharing. In addition to collaborating with schools, universities, and other organisations to spread knowledge about the health benefits of seaweed, ALGAplus has also worked with social associations that support the integration of people facing difficulties.
If ALGAplus could be summed up in one concept, it would be “innovative sustainability”, because innovation underlies all business activities and decisions. The innovative projects are either developed internally or in collaboration with national or international R&D entities (https://www.algaplus.pt/investigacao/). The fact that ALGAplus is able to meet 16 of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals while also producing an extremely versatile resource with vast industrial applications and proven health benefits makes the entire team proud and inspired to keep on innovating sustainably.
For more information about the company, visit: www.algaplus.pt