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MacroValue: Improving the understanding of seasonal variation in cultivated macroalgae

  • Published 23/04/2015
The ultimate goal of the project is a better understanding of the seasonal variation of the chemical composition in macroalgae, so that the species, variety, cultivation and harvesting can be optimized for the highest yield of the targeted compounds. It can then be processed, in a dedicated extraction procedure where relevant product compounds are extracted and sold for usage in commercial sustainable product applications.

MacroValue: Improving the understanding of seasonal variation in cultivated macroalgae


From 01/01/2015
To 31/12/2017


There is an increasing demand for new sustainable marine sources for products within food, feed, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and the energy sector. The European seaweed – or macroalgae - industry relies on wild harvest and growth is limited by ecological sustainability considerations. But large scale macroalgae cultivation can satisfy this demand. However, macroalgae cultivation needs increased knowledge and understanding of seasonal variation of growth rates and biological content development. This lack of knowledge is one of the main obstacle in making large scale production of macroalgae economically feasible. In addition there is a need to develop cost effective and energy efficient methods for ensuring a storage stability.


A thorough understanding of seasonal variation will allow an optimization of the seasonal cultivation for the extraction and conversion into final high quality value added products.


MacroValue seeks to address following 4 main challenges:

  1. Seasonal variation: Most of the existing literature refers to research which has been made on naturally grown macroalgae populations. However, cultivation is characterized by seeding and harvesting within 3-6 months, and the harvest can take place during different seasons of the year – and for some species several times in one year. The nutritional composition of macroalgae varies, depending on strain, season and area of cultivation. These represent different values in commercial utilization, and thus optimization of macroalgae cultivation is only possible if it can be based on knowledge about the variation of macro- and micronutrients in the seaweed.
  2. Optimisation of seeding: An additional challenge relates to optimising seeding methods through selective breeding of high performing weeds in growth rate and yield.  The protocols are fairly well developed within S. latissima and A. esculenta, but there is a need to improve the ability to seed P. palmata (which is rich in protein and in high demand) in a large scale off shore cultivation operation.
  3. Storage stability: Furthermore, an unsolved bottle neck for large scale macro algal cultivation is bringing the biomass into a storage stable condition in an energy efficient and otherwise cost effective operation. Currently the most common method is using drying or blast freezing. However, both these methods demand energy, labour and time. There is a need to demonstrate how a storage stable condition can be obtained with enzymes or organic acids with an operational throughput of >5 tonnes wet weight pr day.
  4. Product applications: Finally, it is important to identify product applications and market drivers ranging from low volume/high price to high volume/low price segments. The challenge is to increase the value of the fresh weight product through optimised cultivation programs (which species to harvest when), and conduct product extraction and refinement in order to better match price attractive market demands.



Project outcome

MacroValue will address these challenges and come up with concrete solutions through state of the art information collection and analysis, method development for storing and extraction processes, and market tests together with commercial end-users.  



Project status


During summer 2015, Hortimare constructed a hatchery. It consists of two containers with a capacity of 18x180 litre tanks, where it is possible to cultivate 17820 meter of seed lines at the same time. The hatchery was transported and installed at the Faroe Islands autumn 2015.  


In the new hatchery facilities 3000 m seeded S. latissima lines was nursed over a two-month period during September and October. The lines were successfully deployed at sea November 2015 and growth were observed in January 2016. In addition, a full-scale wet-laboratory was built in Kaldbak during 2015.  


All the biomass harvested in 2015 was sold to customers in Europe within the food and cosmetic segments in either dried or frozen form. The total sales was approximately 20.000 kg.


In the following year of the project, the main challenge to solve is to get the production certified as organic, and to document/specify the products with respect to bioactive content. 



 Urd G. Bak, project leader

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Project Owner
Ocean Rainforest
Project leader
Olavur Gregersen, Ocean Rainforest
Project Owner
Ocean Rainforest
Project leader
Urd G.Bak, Ocean Rainforest