Research project Valorisation of algae for a better taste

In progress Acronym: VALGORIZE
Algae

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Johan Robbens on a boat at a seaweed farm

Johan Robbens

ValgOrize project coordinator

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Main research question

Seaweed and micro-algae are not well-known as food sources in West Europe. In times of exhaustion of agricultural land, overfishing and an ever-increasing demand for food, there is great need for sustainable alternatives. Both consumers and food producers are reluctant to use these products, however. The obstacles are known: lack of knowledge about the taste of seaweed/algae, lack of reliable supply and lack of knowledge of what the European consumer likes. ValgOrize tackles all these aspects in order to promote the development of the seaweed/algae chain in Europe. The goal is to give food producers information about the conditions in which the seaweed and micro-algae can be grown in light of certain taste and quality parameters. Final goals are greater accessibility for the consumer and starting up a seaweed/algae food chain in Europe.

Research approach

ValgOrize is an Interreg 2 Seas project and an international collaboration between 12 scientific institutes and commercial enterprises. One work package focuses on finding the optimal conditions in which seaweed and microalgae must be grown to ensure good taste. The chemical and microbial safety is an important part of this project. In other work packages, expert taste panels are set up, among others to map the entire taste range of seaweed and algae. Algae residual flows are used in feed performance tests with chicken (zero waste). The seaweed and algae are also scored for sustainability, as is already done for fish (MSC) and aquaculture (ASC).

Relevance/Valorization

ValgOrize contributes to improved knowledge about local, high quality and bio-safe seaweed and algae production and a more consistent flow of biomass produced. We expect an increase in production capacity and an increase in consumer acceptance. The expertise is bundled in an open knowledge platform and two demo production sites are set up. In addition, market research is also being conducted in order to make the link between producers, distributors and ultimately the consumer. Stakeholders are involved in the project from on the start to promote market acceptance of algae and to stimulate the development of the European seaweed/algae sector.