With their photosynthetic lifestyle and ability to generate biomass rich in protein, vitamins and minerals
microalgae have the potential to contribute to sustainable production of foods. There is an opportunity to
capitalise on these attributes to valorise algal biomass waste streams for food use after, for example, oil
extraction for nutraceuticals and cosmetic use. This approach has been successfully used in sectors
such as the dairy industry, where a nutritional functional proteins (lactoferrin) is isolated from whey, a
waste stream from cheese manufacture now has a market value projected to be worth $949M(US) by
2027.Building on successful approaches we will identify value-added nutritional ingredients from algal
waste streams targeting three areas of acknowledged need:
(1) Vitamins B12 (cobalamin) and D3 are lacking in conventional plant-based diets. Microalgae have the
potential to either make or acquire these vitamins from their environment. We will establish the
presence and levels of these micronutrients ingredients algal waste-streams.
(2) Intakes selenium and iron are below recommended thresholds for certain population groups in the
UK and although microalgae can be enriched in these minerals it is not known whether this is in the
protein-associated form that can best be used by the human body. We will identify the potential for
algal waste-streams to be enriched in proteins which bind selenium and iron.
(3) Consumers adhering to a plant based diet consume more ultra-processed foods in the form of meatand dairy- substitutes often enhancing functionality using hydrogenated vegetable fats. These can be
replaced by healthier, protein-alternatives. We will identify candidate protein-rich algal waste
streams for use as emulsifiers in food.
Using the new knowledge gained from the project we will develop a technical road-map to realise the
potential of algal waste streams to deliver value-added nutritional ingredients in to the market place.