CHAPTER 12: Application of Microalgae for Food Supplements and Animal Feed: Scientific, Sustainability and Socioeconomic Challenges
Published:10 May 2021
R. Singla, P. Parmar, S. G. Anand, and S. Vidyashankar, in Microalgal Biotechnology: Recent Advances, Market Potential, and Sustainability, ed. A. Shekh, P. Schenk, and R. Sarada, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, pp. 325-359.
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Microalgae have been advocated for a long time as healthy foods with high protein content, antioxidants, essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients. Despite the availability of several reports on the bio-efficacy of microalgal nutrients and microalgae production technology, commercial uptake for microalgae has been poor. This could be attributed to low production capacities, high production costs, an intense (generally green) colour, fishy aroma and seaweed-like taste and legislative and regulatory issues. Although there is an upward trend in the acceptance of microalgae products, it is mostly with a few species, namely Spirulina, Chlorella, Haematococcus, Dunaliella, Schizochytrium and Crypthecodinium, limiting the applications of microalgae to the cosmetics and nutraceuticals' markets. There are several pertinent challenges with respect to microalgae technologies for commodity food and feed applications at affordable prices. This chapter attempts to highlight some of the important challenges such as digestibility and bioavailability, downstream processing, sustainability of biomass production, socio-economic factors and regulatory challenges associated with microalgae technologies for food and feed applications. Effective processing of biomass, understanding the stability of metabolites derived from microalgae and a biorefinery approach utilizing every component of biomass would pave the way for sustainable commercialization of algal products.