EIT Food warmly welcomes the publication of the European Commission’s Communication “Towards a Strong and Sustainable EU Algae Sector”. We believe this initiative marks an important step forward towards a more sustainable food system in Europe. EIT Food recognises sustainable aquaculture as a key focus area for innovation, and within that the important role of algae.
Our current food system is unsustainable: the production of food is both a cause of climate change and is threatened by climate change. Micro- and macroalgae could provide a solution to sustainably feed our growing global population and simultaneously contribute to the decarbonisation of the food system. Their production does not require arable land and can provide a source of food, feed and biomass for other sectors, hence reducing the pressure on land use. Algae are also a very promising candidate component in future diets, providing a source of healthy and sustainable proteins as well as a range of other nutritional properties.
Dr Andy Zynga, CEO of EIT Food, stated:
“Innovation will help us bring new algae-based solutions to the market. However, to reap their full potential, we need to ensure continuous support throughout to the whole innovation journey, from closing knowledge, technological and skill gaps by leveraging R&I as well as education, to providing support to build a stronger industrial ecosystem, all the way to fostering consumer awareness – a key part of the innovation process.”
Research by EIT Food’s Citizen Participation Forum has highlighted gaps that must be addressed in consumer perception of algae: not only are consumers largely unaware of the nutritional and environmental benefits of algae, but they are also sceptical about their taste prior to their first try. To ensure consumer acceptance of algae, we need to increase awareness of their benefits, while exposing consumers to more algae-based options and leveraging innovation to improve their sensory properties. EIT Food therefore welcomes the planned EU and regional campaigns promoting the variety of applications and benefits of algae-based products.
EIT Food supports the growth of the sector throughout the full spectrum of its activities:
- Innovation projects are developing novel applications and production methods, including:
- ThermoBlue: developing a natural, healthy, sustainably produced and safe blue food colouring using microalgae
- DELTA FUTURO: using microalgae as a key input to sustainably farm Manila clams
- INSPIRE organic milk: harnessing seaweed to produce iodine-fortified organic milk
- SeaCH4NGE: seaweed supplementation to mitigate methane (CH4) emissions by cattle
- Support for startups active in the sector, such as for Aliga Microalgae, which developed a white and neutral-flavoured variety of chlorella to enable its use for human consumption, and Solmeyea, developing an innovative system for low-cost vertical cultivation of microalgae with a low carbon footprint
- Education programmes are mentoring students and entrepreneurs in developing innovative solutions for several aquaculture fields, including algae; and a dedicated course on algal biotechnology targeting postgraduates, post-doctoral and industry researchers
- Public engagement activities to engage consumers in dialogue about algae via the FoodUnfolded® platform.
EIT Food believes in the power of collaboration, and our existing programmes of work mean we are ready to support the European Commission and all relevant stakeholders to enable the continued growth of this promising sector and the transfer of technology from research to market, in line with the mission of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.