Macroalgae have been used for many years, mainly as binders, in the feed aquaculture industry. Their biochemical composition however has received limited attention but several studies have demonstrated that algae can be used as a partial replacement for many of the ingredients found in fish feed, such as proteins, oils, vitamin & mineral mixes, binders, antibiotics, antioxidants and colorants. In addition, biopolymers of marine origin have received increasing attention from the medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries for numerous applications ranging from biodegradable plastics to food additives, pharmaceutical and medical polymers, wound dressings, bio-adhesives, dental biomaterials, tissue regeneration and 3D tissue culture scaffolds.
There are several components in seaweeds that can be used in consumer products (E401, E406, E407), animal feed and in addition the biomass can be used for bio-ethanol and bio-gas end-products. The waste products can also be used as an agent in soil improvement/fertilization.
The companies that utilize seaweeds in their products are involved in a wide range of industries, but commonly they are large multinational companies, and as such are interested in vertical integration of their commodity chains