Headquartered in Brittany, France, Algaia SA produces specialised seaweed ingredients – including seaweed extracts and hydrocolloids – for industry. In food, for example, the company is making ‘clean label’ modified starch replacements and alginate-based fibre, amongst other ingredients.
This month, German-headquartered JRS Group, which makes functional ingredients and plant-based raw materials, announced it would be buying Algaia. The acquisition includes Algaia’s R&D centre in Saint-Lô, Normandy, and its production facility in Lannilis, Brittany.
Following the purchase of DuPont’s former alignates business with a production site in Landerneau, Brittany in 2018, JRS sees the acquisition of Algaia’s nearby site in Lannilis as ‘another milestone’ in its seaweed business.
A synergistic buy-out
Both companies sustainably harvest and process seaweed along the Atlantic coast in France, considered one of the largest fresh seaweed fields in Europe.
By joining forces, JRS believes it can create the best conditions to meet growing demand for natural, renewable and biodegradable solutions for the food industry, as well as for feed, pharmaceuticals and medical care, home and personal care, as well as surface coating or agriculture.
“The acquisition of Algaia enables far-reaching synergies with our existing alginate business and underlines our commitment to provide outstanding innovative seaweed-based solutions to our global customers,” said Josef Otto Rettenmaier, president of JRS Group.
“JRS is fully committed to ensuring business continuity, to develop both production sites and to support the local sustainable harvest and utilisation of fresh seaweed sources in Brittany.”
From Algaia’s perspective, CEO Frédéric Faure said it its looking forward to bringing its long-term innovation and business expertise in hydrocolloids and agri-ingredients – as well as its proprietary biorefinery ‘know-how’ – to JRS.
“We are confident that the newly-formed organisation will enable to answer the fast-growing demand for seaweed-based products and ensure a sustainable growth to both sites.”
Seaweed in the spotlight
Indeed, demand for seaweed is ‘fast-growing’. According to Allied Market Research, the global seaweed market was valued at $6.5bn (€6.03bn) in 2021 and is projected to reach $14.6bn by 2031.
Even the European Union is funding work to make seaweed a staple of European diets via a public-private partnership launched last year in the Faroe Islands. Led by seaweed cultivation firm Ocean Rainforest, the SeaMark project is bringing together 25 multi-disciplinary partners from Euorope’s public and private sectors, including Algaia.
Last year, the European Commission also instigated the EU Algae Initiative to support algae farming and processing sectors. “Stronger EU algae farming and processing sectors can respond to demand in a wide range of industries, starting with food, animal feed or bio-based plastic to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or biofuels” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, at the time.