Seaweed to reduce cow methane

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO has announced the formation of a new company to take a methane-busting seaweed to market, with $13 million secured from five investors.

FutureFeed Pty Ltd will commercialise a livestock feed additive made from the seaweed Asparagopsis, which has been shown to reduce methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle by more than 80 per cent in research trials in Australia and the USA.

AGP Sustainable Real Assets-Sparklabs Cultiv8 Joint Venture, GrainCorp, Harvest Road, Woolworths and CSIRO have committed to investing in the company.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said it was great to see Australian companies getting behind an Aussie innovation with immense global potential.

“This is a game-changer – not only for livestock production, but also for our environment – with the potential to create an entirely new industry, while supporting jobs in the Australian agriculture sector,” Minister Andrews said.

“This is an example of what can be achieved when industry and researchers work together to solve real-world problems.

READ MORE: Supplying the next generation of manufacturing

“It also highlights the ongoing jobs and economic opportunities that can come from ensuring our world-leading research is commercialised.”

The newly established FutureFeed company will develop a full value chain for the livestock feed supplement, from seaweed cultivation and production through to processing and feed manufacture in order to supply beef and dairy industries globally.

The company expects to see commercial volumes of the feed additive supplied into the Australian beef and dairy market by mid-2021, with international markets to follow.

When Asparagopsis is fed as a supplement to cattle, it not only reduces methane emissions but also supports productivity. The supplement has been developed and trialled over more than five years by CSIRO in collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said FutureFeed is science solving the seemingly unsolvable – reducing the emissions but not the profits.

“FutureFeed enables agriculture and the environment to be partners not competitors, helps overcome negative perceptions of the cattle industry, and gives Australian farmers an advantage in the global marketplace as first adopters of this Aussie innovation,” Dr Marshall said.

“FutureFeed is addressing some of the greatest challenges we face, including food security, sustainable production and climate change, by turning science into a real product in the hands of business so they can turn it into jobs and economic growth.

“By earning equity in FutureFeed, CSIRO can continue to invest in great science for the future of industry.”

RIGHT: ASPARAGOPSIS GROWING IN TANKS.

CSIRO scientists estimate that if the feed additive were to be adopted by 10 per cent of beef feedlots and dairy industries globally, this could reduce livestock industry greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 120 megatonnes per year, equivalent to taking around 50 million cars off the road for a year.

The company will be exploring market options for greenhouse gas abatement payments for livestock producers that adopt the supplement.

FutureFeed Pty Ltd has been formed after a competitive investment process designed to ensure a mix of investors with expertise across the livestock value chain encompassing aquaculture, feed supply, beef production and processing, and retai

Blueprint for a $billion Australian seaweed industry

AgriFutures Australia has announced a new project with the Australian Seaweed Institute to develop the blueprint for the emerging seaweed industry in Australia. The industry is forecast to create new coastal jobs, help to protect and regenerate waterways and contribute to greenhouse gas reduction.

“The current global market for seaweed products such as food, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, animal feed and fertiliser is estimated at over US$11 billion and is expected to double in value by 2025,” said Jo Kelly, CEO of the Australian Seaweed Institute.

“Australia has ideal growing conditions and a huge export opportunity for high-value bioproducts from native Australian seaweeds. And while there are a handful of entrepreneurs and researchers undertaking projects around Australia, there are no commercial scale seaweed ocean farms operating here and no strategic plan for industry development,” she added.

The Seaweed Industry Blueprint project is designed to unite existing seaweed research and aquaculture efforts into an action plan to accelerate investment and development. The project forms part of AgriFutures Australia’s Emerging Industries Program, which is focused on identifying and supporting the emergence of agricultural industries that can reach, or exceed, a $10 million per annum threshold in the next five years.

AgriFutures Australia senior manager, Emerging Industries, Tom McCue said “seaweed is an exciting emerging industry in Australia and we’re focusing our RD&E efforts to support the industry due to its high growth potential and ability to make a valuable contribution to the national economy.”

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has also positive about the future of this industry. Managing director Dr Patrick Hone said “there is enormous opportunity for macroalgae aquaculture and great value in developing the Blueprint. FRDC looks forward to working with AgriFutures and the Australian Seaweed Institute on the project and any future developments.”

“The opportunity for an Australian seaweed industry is really significant from an economic, environmental and social impact lens. Just one of the native seaweeds found off the Australian coast, Asparagopsis, has been shown to reduce methane emissions from cattle to almost zero when added to their feed. This is significant because more than 66 per cent of all agricultural greenhouse gases in Australia come from the digestion process of cattle.

“This single use for seaweed is incredibly exciting, but as the research into bioproducts from native Australian seaweed species is virtually non-existent, the potential for this industry to contribute to global health and nutrition while adding significant value to the Australian economy cannot be overstated,” said Kelly,

The initial objective of the blueprint is to outline the seaweed industry opportunity for Australia including a clear plan of action that will, at a minimum, deliver a $10 million industry by 2025. The second objective is to create an industry development blueprint with appropriate milestones to grow the industry to over $1 billion by 2040.

Seaweed: the next big opportunity in snacking?

Seaweed is a rare example of an opportunity to get in at Day One of a new growth market for snacks, predicts New Nutrition Business, with sales of seaweed snacks in the US already overtaking those of kale. 

“Launches of seaweed snack products are proliferating and sales outstrip those of kale, the trendy green vegetable that has benefited from a huge degree of hype since 2010 and has been embraced by young health-conscious urban consumers,” says Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business, which outlines five steps to creating a successful seaweed snack in a new report1. “Seaweed’s transition from the food fringes to mainstream will be propelled by snack products ,” he adds.

In the US, retail sales of seaweed snacks were valued at over $USD250 million in 2014, a year when market growth was around 30 per cent, and the last two years has seen a surge in launches of snack products with seaweed. 

Long a favorite of health-conscious consumers on the food fringes, seaweed’s “naturally functional” advantages – it’s a low-calorie source of protein and fiber, richer in trace minerals and vitamins than kale, and it ticks a number of free-from boxes – are winning it wider attention.

“Seaweed is a naturally-healthy plant-based ingredient, with a range of natural nutritional advantages and impeccable sustainability credentials,” says Mellentin. “These features are gaining it growing media coverage, and the attention of health-conscious consumers who are looking for an interesting new snack.”

In response to this growing consumer interest, snack brands have started to include seaweed in existing products, such as seaweed-flavoured rice chips, and there are also totally new brands that use a variety of seaweed types in inventive formats.

The new report sets out five steps to best position, market, price and distribute seaweed snacks in the US and Europe. The report provides practical insights for companies large or small aiming to create a successful seaweed snack brand. Snapshots of key brands provide real-world examples of products, marketing and communications for seaweed snacks.