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Spirulina - Market

Spirulina is now commercially available in tablet or powder form. During 1970-1980, at the time when spirulina was launched on the market, the market for food supplements was not organised and regulated as is the case today. It was in 1981 that the marketing of spirulina and especially its mediatization really started. The boom in consumption was due to a front-page article in a US daily newspaper vaunting the properties of spirulina as a hunger reducer for people on a diet. Other media took up the subject and very quickly, demand exploded in the USA. Hundreds of companies entered the market to offer their spirulina, when production in 1981 only amounted to 500 tons/year, the majority of which was already bought by Japan. The result was that the products sold in the USA contained very little spirulina.

At present, companies that produce high-quality spirulina try to keep their market share by stressing the quality aspect, and at the same time, they are developing products with higher added value, extracting from spirulina components that they sell to other industries: food colouring, fluorescent markers, enzymes, etc. Genetically modified spirulina is also being developed, like spirulina with high iron, beta-carotene, zinc, etc. content. The main producers of Spirulina are located in Asia and the USA. More than 10% of the world production is from China, operated by Hainan Simai Enterprising (Hanian, China). The company produces around 350 t of Spirulina per year. The world's largest Arthospira production plant located in South California owned by Earthrise nutritionals produces 450 t/year.

Market Value

The current annual production of spirulina is in excess of 5000 tonnes. Exact production figures are difficult to determine because of the many relatively small producers in Asia, but the capacity exists to expand production of Spirulina to meet any growing market demand.
The market price of Spirulina is US$25/kg in 2013.

Spirulina Introduction

    Spirulina is a human and animal food or nutritional supplement made primarily from two species of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.

Spirulina Production

"Spirulina ( Arthospira sp) used for the production of single" cell protein. The commercial producers of Spirulina are located in the United States, Thailand, India, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Burma and Chile.

Spirulina Composition

    Spirulina contains about 60% (51-71%) protein of its dry weight. The protein content varies by 10-15% according to the time of harvesting in relation to daylight.

Cultivation and Growth Requirements

"The optimum temperature for growth is 35oC, but above 38oC spirulina is in danger. Growth only takes place in light (photosynthesis), but illumination 24 hours a day is not recommended.

Spirulina Application

"Spirulina spp. and its processing products are employed in agriculture, food industry, pharmaceutics, perfumery and medicine. Spirulina has several pharmacological activities such as antimicrobial (including antiviral and antibacterial), anticancer, metalloprotective (prevention of heavy-metal poisoning against Cd, Pb, Fe, Hg).

Spirulina – Facts & Factoids

"Spirulina is not considered to be a reliable source of Vitamin B12. The standard B12 assay, using Lactobacillus leichmannii, shows spirulina to be a minimal source of bioavailable vitamin B12.

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