Although currently small, the European algae sector has the potential to become a significant part of the EU blue bioeconomy. A combination of research and innovation in the EU and enthusiastic entrepreneurship has created the momentum the EU algae sector needed to develop and expand – the UN Global Compact even call it a Seaweed Revolution – while contributing to the achievement of the European Green Deal objectives. This puts Europe in a very good position to harness its algae potential over the next decade.
The Seaweed for Europe coalition estimates that European demand for seaweed could increase from around 270 000 tonnes15 in 2019 to 8 million tonnes in 2030 and reach EUR 9 billion16 in value in 2030 across all sectors, with feed, food and plant biostimulants (fertilising products) being the largest17. Such an increase in production could create around 85 000 jobs, remove thousands of tonnes of phosphorus and nitrogen from the European Seas annually, mitigate up to 5.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and relieve pressure on the land.
A thriving EU algae industry could become a flagship and source of inspiration for other industries to become more regenerative, innovative and socially exemplary, creating thousands of jobs in the process, especially in coastal communities. As announced in the Communication on the Commission’s new approach for a sustainable blue economy, this Communication looks at the potential of algae in the EU and sets out a coherent approach, including targeted actions, to support the upscaling of regenerative algae cultivation and production throughout the EU, and to develop and mainstream the markets for food and non-food algae applications.