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Spirulina farm funding lays foundation for $100m sector

27th November 2020 By Staff Reporter | | @foodtickernz

A $500,000 investment to assess the viability of large scale production of spirulina could lead to the development of a new primary industries sector in New Zealand, worth more than $100m a year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) and NZ’s only spirulina farm owner, NZ Algae Innovations, would co-invest in the two-year project to scale production to test new growing and processing systems.

One of the main aims of the initiative is to establish a new business model so modular production units can be replicated across New Zealand, in other areas with a suitable climate such as Hawke’s Bay, Northland, or Tasman.

NZ Algae Innovations will plough $390,000 into the project which has already kicked off at its spirulina farm, Tahi Spirulina, located in Himatangi, Manawatū. SFF Futures is investing the $260,000 balance.

NZ Algae Innovations Justin Hall said: “We recognise that spirulina is grown around the world and there are far larger overseas producers than us at the moment – our challenge is to find that sustainable point of difference that would make our spirulina a uniquely New Zealand product.”


Justin Hall, director, NZ Algae Innovations. Image: Supplied

“We want to understand what consumers are looking for, and whether taking spirulina in powder or capsule form is working for them,” said Hall.

“Our research so far has included looking at how to incorporate spirulina into a range of added value food products. We’ve already been experimenting with creating whole dried spirulina sprinkles, which taste nutty – a bit like nori [dried seaweed], with the intent of attracting new consumers.”

Spirulina has a very low carbon and water footprint and can be grown using most land types, according to MPI. Director investment programmes Steve Penno said establishing an algal protein sector could have considerable benefits for New Zealand.

“Spirulina farming has the potential to create exciting new employment and export opportunities for this country. It would also support the Government’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050, by offering a new financially viable and sustainable land use option,” he said. 

The project began on October 23 and is expected to complete at the end of November 2021.



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