Norway, with its long coastline, is in a unique position with large amounts of renewable resources from the ocean, which we can convert into high-quality protein-rich feed ingredients by using new technology. Seaweeds have traditionally been used in human and animal nutrition due to the mineral content and the functional properties of their polysaccharides. Norway has a long tradition of harvesting kelp for alginate production (alginate is used as thickener in various food products). The harvest is closely monitored, and the harvest has been stable during the last 30 years. This implies that if we are going to increase biomass production, we must cultivate seaweeds. There is growing interest in macroalgae cultivation in Norway and the first commercial producers have already been established. Cultivation of seaweeds will provide new opportunities for value creation. Due to the interesting properties of the macroalgae and the content of nutrient and bioactive components, macroalgae can be used in many different applications, including food, feed ingredients, pharmaceuticals, bioenergy, and fertilizer.
Brown algae like sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima), winged kelp (Alaria esculenta), and finger kelp (laminaria digitata) are the most relevant species for feed production because of potentially high biomass production. The nutritional value of brown algae is relatively low, due to the high content of water, ash, complex carbohydrates, and various antinutritional factors, and the low content of protein and energy. To overcome these characteristics, novel processing strategies will be developed. By using suitable bioprocessing, seaweeds can serve as a high-quality feed resource, providing protein, energy, marine n-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and a wide range of bioactive components that may improve health and the quality and safety of fish and meat products. A major research effort in Foods of Norway will be to upgrade the nutrient value of seaweeds through a new biorefinery process. This will make use of the entire biomass in the fermentation process for the production of yeast that can be used as a feed ingredient in animal and fish feed.
In Foods of Norway we take sustainability very seriously and the use of the biomass must be based on a sustainable harvest. The environmental impact of the new ingredients developed from seaweeds will be assessed. Cultivating seaweeds can be benefical for the environment in several ways, including recapturing nutrients that are lost from fish farms and capturing CO2 from the water.