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Spirulina spirals into Cargill…and your grocery cart

December 08, 2016

Remember how quinoa (/ke:nwa/), goji berries and chia seeds found their spot in your vocabulary? Start practicing your pronunciation, because it is only a matter of time before you will be looking for this next superfood, spirulina, in your local supermarket. Admittedly, it won’t be for its appealing aroma or mouth-watering texture. What will win you over is its unparalleled health benefits.

Spirulina is one of the oldest foods in the world. The blue-green algae are famed for being an excellent source of proteins, iron, vitamins and beta carotene. What’s more, it is low in fat and sodium and easy to digest. No wonder that demand, and therefore production, is rising in the Western world.

One of the pioneers in France is Algae Natural Food, a young biotech company with the ambition to grow spirulina locally – and 100 percent biologically, unlike most of the available spirulina on the market. The best way to achieve that ambition was to source some key elements of the spirulina production from the process-streams of an existing production.

Enter Cargill’s malt plant in Strasbourg, France. Transforming barley into brewing malt is a 10-day, natural process of steeping, germination and kilning (or drying). It requires water to soak the barley, and releases CO2 and heat into the air. The process-streams of the malting house was the nutrient-filled, untapped potential ANF was looking for.

“It is a perfect industrial symbiosis,” said Gilles Lazard, Cargill plant manager and now neighbor of ANF’s pilot facility. “We have a fully complementary set-up, which allows us to act out not only an economic efficiency ambition, but maybe even more our commitment to use resources wisely and break the conventional molds of a production process.”

“This initiative fits in perfectly with Cargill’s policy of supplying products and services from sustainable practices,” adds Caroline Sikking, sustainability manager for Cargill’s malt business. “It was therefore important for us to support Algae Natural Food's ambition to only develop products according to the principles of the green economy.”

Now, back to the grocery list! Go for spirulina powder as an ingredient for a banana / avocado smoothie. If you prefer juice, try stirring it into a naturally sweet orange or pineapple juice. Enjoy!

Read the full press release here.