A consortium of sustainability consultants and algae organisations, together with the European Commission and the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), is launching a European algae stakeholder platform: EU4Algae.
The platform, designed to accelerate the development of a European algae industry – including the promotion of algae for nutrition across the bloc – responds to ‘slow’ uptake of the ingredient.
Traditionally appreciated in Asian cuisine for their nutritional value and umami taste, in recent years algae has begun to be featured more heavily in western cuisine – particularly in vegan dishes.
Algae are not solely produced for the food industry. More and more they are being used in feed, or for sustainable industrial applications such as biodegradable plastics.
Other sustainability benefits associated with algae cultivation include improving ocean health by reducing carbon dioxide, phosphorus and nitrogen in marine ecosystems.
While the benefits of algae production are increasingly understood, uptake in Europe of algae production and consumption is ‘too slow’, according to the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries: “So the European Commission is stepping up its game.”
The platform will facilitate collaboration between algae farmers, producers, sellers, consumers, technology developers, business support organisations, investors, public authorities, academia, researchers, and NGOs.
“It will also act as a single information hub on algae funding calls, projects, business-related information, intelligence and best practices,” noted the DG.
The new platform aligns with the Commission's Farm to Fork strategy, under its European Green Deal, in which it stated an ambition for algae to 'become an important source of alternative protein for a sustainable food system and global food security'.
And in 2021, the Commission highlighted the role of seaweed cultivation in climate mitigation, via carbon sequestration, as well as climate adaptation.
By the end of this year, an EU Algae initiative accompanied by an Action plan to promote algae in Europe will be released by the Commission. The EU4Algae platform will draft recommendations to those initiatives and support their implementation.
The EU4Algae project will be live for three years, with a launch expected by summer 2022.