The algae and seaweed opportunity: An Australian prospect

  • 28 pages

  • Published: 25 Nov 2021

  • Author(s): Adrian Spencer

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-217-8

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Health food and vitamin companies wish to access quality local produce to ensure they continue to supply the highest-quality products with known provenance, and to capitalise on Australia’s ‘clean and green’ reputation. Given the climate and enormous variety of native species, algae and seaweed could provide an opportunity for Australia to produce local ingredients for the nutraceutical market. It is estimated that the Australian seaweed industry has a gross value of production of $3 million, with the potential to grow significantly (Kelly, 2020).

The global market for vitamins, minerals, supplements and functional foods is growing at a rapid rate. From 2013 through to 2021, it grew from $100 billion to $180 billion. Independent economic modelling shows that Australia’s nutraceutical industry generates annual revenue of $5.2 billion and has a total impact of $8.33 billion on the Australian economy. It directly employs 12,701 people and, including indirect jobs, supports more than 28,000 Australians (REMPLAN, 2016).

For decades, omega-3 oil supplements have been sourced from fish and krill. However, with the increasing ecological impact of large-scale fishing and consumer demand for plant-based products, there is pressure to find alternative sources. Global sales for fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids exceeded $3.2 billion in 2020. This market continues to grow and consumers of these products are rapidly demanding vegan alternatives.

With the support of AgriFutures Australia and industry partners Swisse Wellness and Marinova, Sampano engaged CSIRO to answer the question: “Is there an algae that can be grown locally as a viable omega-3 source?”

As well as discovering the answer to this, we also discovered more about the algae opportunity. This report summarises our findings and provides background to the opportunity and the market context, plus information on how to participate.