When we see investors funding algae companies it often seems like they are looking for profits in the fuel markets, but it turns out they making a bet on a wide variety of products that can earn a return long before algae production achieves the quantities necessary for fuels.
One example of these other markets is proteins. Agricultural feed and nutritional products for people (look at this big investment just announced in Ireland) can be produced by algae an vastly higher inefficiencies than traditional methods.
FoodNavigator-USA.com, a news site for the food and beverage industries recently examined how algae is making an impact in their business:
- Could algae be the next big thing in the protein market? Part one: Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals — Much has been written about the potential of proteins such as pea and canola as firms seek alternatives to dairy and other carbon-intensive – and increasingly pricey – animal proteins. But what about microalgae?
- Could algae be the next big thing in the protein market? Part two: Aurora Algae — Protein has never been hotter – at least that’s what the market researchers tell us – and vegetarian proteins in particular are top of the pops right now.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Algae is also capable of producing plastics, pharmaceuticals, treating waste water and providing a profitable pathway to carbon abatement. There are enormous markets for all of these, and countless others. And so as most algae companies grow into fuel production it is a near certainty they will be looking at how the versatility of their technology can provide revenues from other products.
With the rapid pace of development in the algae industry, it’s likely those markets will start paying close attention very soon.