Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Project Investigating Viability Of Large-scale Spirulina Production In New Zealand

Spirulina farming could form the backbone of a new primary industries sector worth more than $100 million a year – on the back of a significant investment by the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures).

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) SFF Futures fund and NZ Algae Innovations Ltd are co-investing more than half a million dollars to assess the viability of larger scale production of spirulina.

Spirulina is generally cultivated in ponds or natural lakes, harvested and dried. NZ Algae Innovations Ltd currently operates the only spirulina farm in New Zealand, under the Tahi Spirulina brand. The farm is located in Himatangi, Manawatu and has a 400 square metre area dedicated to growing spirulina in purpose-built shallow ponds.

The two-year project involves scaling production to test new growing and processing systems. It is also researching the benefits and opportunities of growing spirulina to support the next steps towards full commercial-scale production.

“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,” says Justin Hall, Director, NZ Algae Innovations Ltd.

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

The project aims to establish a new business model so modular production units can be replicated in potential growing regions across New Zealand. The climatic requirements of spirulina make it especially suitable for the growing regions of Nelson/Tasman, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty and Northland.

“Market research shows that consumers, particularly in the northern and western hemispheres, are increasingly looking to add more plant-based protein in their diet and spirulina fits that trend nicely,” says Mr Hall.

The project seeks to build on the existing base of knowledge about spirulina production to grow a more nutritional product. It will explore ways of maintaining more nutrient content in spirulina by developing different harvesting and processing methods using techniques from other industries.

By weight, spirulina comprises more than 60 percent protein and is one of the world's most iron dense foods. Tahi Spirulina production requires less water per unit of protein produced than most alternatives as the spirulina is grown in a contained system that minimises evaporation and prevents leaching.

“By growing spirulina in sheltered raceway ponds, we also eliminate contamination from bird faeces and other airborne contaminants that large-scale commercial production systems are vulnerable to," says Mr Hall.

Spirulina can be grown using most land types, providing the opportunity to improve returns on marginal land. There is also potential for a spirulina sector in New Zealand to utilise waste streams from other primary industries as a source of nutrients for spirulina growth.

“Spirulina has a very low carbon and water footprint, so it checks the sustainability box as well,” says Mr Hall. “By creating a healthy product with a limited environmental footprint, a new spirulina sector for New Zealand has the potential to support both community and environmental wellbeing.”

Steve Penno, Director Investment Programmes at MPI, says 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.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Motor Industry Association: 2020 New Vehicle Registrations Suffer From Covid-19

Chief Executive David Crawford says that like some other sectors of the New Zealand economy, the new vehicle sector suffered from a case of Covid-19. Confirmed figures for December 2020 show registrations of 8,383 were 25% ... More>>

CTU 2021 Work Life Survey: COVID And Bullying Hit Workplaces Hard, Huge Support For Increased Sick Leave

New data from the CTU’s annual work life survey shows a snapshot of working people’s experiences and outlook heading out of 2020 and into the new year. Concerningly 42% of respondents cite workplace bullying as an issue in their workplace - a number ... More>>

Smelter: Tiwai Deal Gives Time For Managed Transition

Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed to working on a managed transition with the local community,” Grant Robertson said. More>>

ALSO:

OECD: Area Employment Rate Rose By 1.9 Percentage Points In The Third Quarter Of 2020

OECD area employment rate rose by 1.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2020, but remained 2.5 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level The OECD area [1] employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – rose ... More>>

Economy: Strong Job Ad Performance In Quarter Four

SEEK Quarterly Employment Report data shows a positive q/q performance with a 19% national growth in jobs advertised during Q4 2020, which includes October, November and December. Comparing quarter 4, 2020, with the same quarter in 2019 shows that job ad volumes are 7% lower...More>>

NIWA: 2020 - NZ’s 7th-warmest Year On Record

The nationwide average temperature for 2020, calculated using stations in NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which began in 1909, was 13.24°C (0.63°C above the 1981–2010 annual average). New Zealand’s hottest year on record remains 2016, when... More>>

Quotable Value New Zealand: Property Market Set To Cool From Sizzling To Warm In 2021

Nostradamus himself could not have predicted the strange series of events that befell our world in 2020 – nor the wild trajectory of New Zealand’s property market, which has gone from “doom and gloom” to “boom and Zoom” in record time. Even ... More>>