Project budget5 699 865 €
ERDF amount3 419 919 €
To maintain current consumption trends, the world must produce 50-70% more food by 2050. Current global algae biomass production is 3M tonnes. In the EU, however, only 0.1 tonne is cultivated with 9% for food, compared to 90% globally. Many EU countries allow wild harvesting of seaweed, an unsustainable practice with low quality yields. Imports of (Asian) algae do not meet EU food safety standards. The key challenge: ‘Controlled sustainable production and processing of high quality, stable, safe algal biomass of known composition with important food features and a good total palatability including: taste, aroma, colour and texture’, in order to facilitate change in favour of food from the lower trophic regions in the ocean food chain and investment in the sector. Food producers need a reliable and predictable supply of high quality biomass and consumers want tasty, safe and high quality products. ValgOrize will close this gap.
- Increase innovation within the agro-food and marine technology smart specialisation sectors occurring across the entire value chain. This enhances tech transfer mainly to SMEs.
- Establish an expertise centre/platform that integrates all innovations and improvements (growth, processing, profiling, marketing).
- Increase insight into consumer acceptance of algae products, thus closing the gap between different stakeholders (i.e. food producers and consumers)
- Gain insight into the investment needed to scale up algae production from pre-commercial (TRL7) to commercial (TRL9) scale (via developed investor’s roadmap)
The main output: increased capacity of members of the 2-Seas region to produce reliable, consistent streams of high quality algal biomass and to process it for food, and facilitate emergence and growth of a new sector within the food industry that produces food products sustainably from algae.
- Specific tools and analytical methods from the Analytical Platform to support the sector to assess the safety and quality of products, profile taste (taste, texture, colour, aroma) and upskill operatives.
- An interdisciplinary knowledge-based, open-source platform to support sustainable cultivation and harvest of algal biomass and algae-based foods that meet consumer requirements
- An investor roadmap
Cross border approach
Within the cultural and social contexts of the algae value chain, Cross border cooperation is needed to facilitate explicit connections and support knowledge transfer to, and business development for stakeholders, to increase the innovative capacity of the 2 Seas area. Partners from areas of 'high innovators' will strengthen the innovative capacity of the project as well as the innovation in some regions (e.g. Zeeland) that are currently described as “moderate innovators”. The collaborating groups of participants in ValgOrize are concerned with all aspects of production, processing and food
preparation using either macro- or micro-algae. Working toward a common goal will increase critical mass in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The successful implementation of the project, thanks to the cross-border activity, will mainly benefit the coastal population across the borders, also creating job opportunities in these coastal areas.
The project has realised several main achievements. The obtained outcome is a nice illustration of a cross border cooperation.
We have selected the preferred seaweeds (3) which were and will be cultivated at medium/large scale under controlled conditions of turbulence, light quality/quantity and nutrient availability. 7 microalgae are selected and cultivated under different conditions (light, nutrient limitation) at medium or large scale. Genetic ID (DNA barcoding) of ValgOrize strains is performed.
With the produced algae biomass, we are able to perform chemical analysis for food safety and quality. The project deals about taste, so we have developed different methods to analyse taste parameters like amino acids and volatile compounds. Via these methods, we are able to analyse the good (or bad) taste of algae. Batches are and will be collected for taste panel analyses. An expert sensory panel was trained to recognize typical algae tastes and aromas. In total 16 participants finished the complete sensory training. 9 microalgae and 6 seaweeds were evaluated by the expert panel. The expertise of the trained panel is used for the evaluation of different algae and eventually product development. It allows us to relate the taste that is considered as good with the performed analysis, and with such information, food producers will be able to produce nice (algae)food for the consumer.
We also performed feed trials with chickens. We are interested to know if chicken like algae and if so, what would be the impact on the quality of the eggs and the meat. Salt content is an issue. The trails will be repeated, results are expected in 2021.
A study on the existing market for algal food applications is delivered, more research is executed to study the market potential and the key success factors of cultivated seaweeds in the food market. All findings are currently being ensembled in two reports.
After the initial set-up and establishment of communication tools and materials in year 1, external communication started running smoothly in year 2. Multiple press releases either covered or mentioned the ValgOrize project. A clear newsletter system and structure was established, with 3 newsletters being sent out internationally which also initiated connections with journalists and third parties. The creation of the first ValgOrize documentary was set in motion, produced and released in Dutch and with English subtitles, French subtitles are on the way.