Summary of our market study

The global algae market, estimated at $799 million in 2022, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% to reach $1,275.65 million in 2029. Asia dominates production with over 90%, while Europe contributes just 1%. France is Europe's second-largest producer, with around 70,000 tonnes a year, but relies heavily on imports, mainly from Ireland and Norway.

Demand for seaweed is driven by its protein content and environmental sustainability, in line with the rise in vegetarian and flexitarian diets in France, where 10 million people identify themselves as flexitarians and almost a million will follow a meat-free diet by 2020. Seaweed has a variety of applications in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and even as a potential biofuel. The French cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries use seaweed for its therapeutic properties, making a significant contribution to the high value-added market.

While wild seaweed cultivation predominates, France aims to support seaweed farming through its 2022-2027 aquaculture plan, with the intention of tripling production by 2027 through technological advances and regulatory development to support industry growth.

An emerging appetite for algae in a health-conscious market

In the contemporary food landscape of the country under review, the trend towards seaweed consumption is booming. This marine vegetable is not only becoming a favorite in the human diet, particularly for its health benefits, but is also finding widespread use in industries such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. With a high protein content, averaging around 20% and reaching up to 70% in certain varieties such as spirulina, seaweed fits perfectly into the growing trend towards vegetarian and vegan diets. They are an environmentally-friendly alternative, offering an impressive portfolio of nutrients while requiring minimal land for cultivation.

Imports, mainly from neighboring European countries, are too high to meet industrial demand, particularly in non-food sectors. In terms of consumer trends, around 24% of the country's population, or between 15 and 20 million people, follow a flexitarian diet, with almost a million opting for a totally meat-free lifestyle. This shift has stimulated growth in the dietary supplements market by almost 40% between 2017 and 2021.

Seaweed products are no longer limited to traditional Asian cuisines, but are also being incorporated into Western products such as tartars and infused oils. The cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries see France capitalizing on high value-added processing activities. The extraction of precious active ingredients from seaweed, a French specialization, meets both the needs of major local brands and significant international demand. The current market structure, although still mainly dependent on wild seaweed harvests, sees spirulina taking the lead in the small but rapidly expanding seaweed farming sector.

Although the costs of cultivated algae remain high, almost 100 times those of wild algae, the country is investing in a national aquaculture plan to triple production by 2027. Despite sophisticated demand in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, strict regulations are in place to ensure that only 25 authorized types of seaweed enter the consumer market, in line with strict European legislation on the quality and safety of this marine blessing.

In conclusion, as the country navigates towards a future characterized by higher food requirements and environmental challenges, seaweed offers a multi-faceted solution.

Key players in the dynamic seaweed market

The seaweed market, with its diverse applications ranging from culinary staples to innovative industrial products, boasts several key players who are at the forefront of exploiting the benefits of microalgae and macroalgae. Here's a look at some of the most remarkable companies driving growth and innovation in this field:

  • Cyanotech

Specializing in the cultivation and production of microalgae for food supplements, Cyanotech has positioned itself as a leader in spirulina- and astaxanthin-based products. Operating a sustainable, biosecure cultivation facility, the company is dedicated to the production of high-quality, GMO-free microalgae products.

  • The microalgae industry in the Far East

Distinguished by its expertise in microalgae cultivation, Far East Microalga Industry meets the growing demand for dietary supplements. It is committed to meeting rigorous quality standards and offering a variety of microalgae-based products that meet the needs of health-conscious consumers.

  • Algenol Biotech

An innovator in the field of algae biotechnology, Algenol Biotech explores the potential of algae not only as a food source, but also as a sustainable biofuel. Its cutting-edge technology makes it possible to meet energy needs while minimizing environmental impact.

  • Euglena Co.

Euglena Co. has made a name for itself as a biotech company specializing in the production of Euglena, a microalgae with potential for both the health food industry and the renewable biofuels sector. It stands out for its environmentally-friendly approach and its search for sustainable solutions.

  • Cargill

As a global giant, Cargill has integrated seaweed into its extensive portfolio. It offers a range of hydrocolloid products derived from seaweed that are used in food, pharmaceutical and industrial applications, demonstrating the versatility of seaweed uses.

  • Roquette

A pioneer in plant-derived ingredients, Roquette has entered the field of algae for applications in health, nutrition and cosmetics. With a focus on innovation, Roquette offers tailor-made solutions that exploit the natural benefits of algae.

  • Sun Chlorella

Sun Chlorella, which focuses on chlorella, a nutrient-rich microalgae, has made considerable progress in offering high-quality dietary supplements. Renowned for its high-quality processing methods, it offers products designed to boost the immune system and overall health.

  • Cellana Cellana is committed to sustainable development and innovation, and has embarked on the production of renewable fuels, animal feed and omega-3 nutritional oils from microalgae.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

Consumed for centuries in Asia, seaweed is gradually making its way into the European diet. In terms of volume, 74% of seaweed consumption is for human consumption, but it is also used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, and more marginally as a biofuel. Macroalgae (with sea lettuce in first place) make up the majority of the market, followed by microalgae used increasingly as dietary supplements (spirulina, chlorella).

The seaweed market is booming, particularly in countries previously reluctant to consume this type of food, with growth set to continue at 6.9% per year until 2030. Production is still largely in Asia (over 90% of world production, compared with 1% in Europe).

Although France is the 2nd largest producer in Europe after Norway, it remains a small consumer, mainly of micro-algae as a food supplement. Microalgae production is supported by a number of leading companies in the sector in Europe: Algae, whose sales have increased 4-fold over the last decade; AlgaWell and GreenSea, as well as more local companies (Bord à Bord and Marinoë in Brittany).

The trend is upward for this still-under-exploited foodstuff, thanks to its therapeutic benefits (notably for cardiovascular disease) and its advantages for vegetarian and vegan diets. Seaweed is rich in protein and low in calories (around 20% protein on average, and up to 70% in the case of spirulina), making up for the intake normally provided by foods of animal origin.

1.2 The global algae market

The global seaweed market was worth $*** million in ****, for ** million tonnes of harvested seaweed, and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of *.*% to reach $*,***.* million in **** .[***].

Growth of the global algae market over the period ****-**** (***) World, ****-****, in millions of dollars

The vast majority of algae production ...

1.3 The national seaweed market

With a production of around **,*** to **,*** tonnes of seaweed per year, France is the seventh largest seaweed producer in the world, and the second largest seaweed producer in Europe behind Norway (***). This makes France the leading producer of seaweed in the European Union. [***].

In France, more than **% of seaweed cultivation takes ...

1.4 Over-reliance on imports

Imported seaweed can be divided into two customs code categories: code ****** for seaweed suitable for human consumption, and code ****** for seaweed unsuitable for human consumption, i.e. intended solely for the processing industry.

From this, we can use the UN Comtrade database to observe France's trade balance in this sector.

In ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Strong demand from processing industries

**% of gelling and thickening agents on the market are seaweed-based: **% carrageenans, **% agars and **% alginates[***]. They are marketed as food additives: E***, E*** and E*** respectively, and are used both in the food industry (***).

Three seaweed extracts make up **% of the epai

The use of seaweed in the Frenchcosmetics industry is a ...

2.2 Protein-rich plants for the diet

Feeding a growing population with limited space is one of the most important challenges of the coming decades. The oceans, which make up **% of our planet, appear to be one of the ways of meeting the growing demand for food, whereas today only *% of our food comes from them. [***]

The consumption ...

2.3 Seaweed in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals: a niche market.

Seaweed is used in many ways in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries: as excipients, active ingredients and additives.

In France, ** types of algae are authorized for cosmetic use[***]. Although the incorporation of algae in this industry has been going on since the ****s, companies' quest for innovation in order to stand ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Structuring the seaweed industry

Below is a simplified value chain for the French algae market:

Source: ****

Seaweed is produced from wild seaweed or by seaweed farming. In the first case, seaweed is harvested offshore by boat or on the shore at low tide. Wild cultivation is the preferred method in France, due to the wealth ...

3.2 Mostly wild seaweed production

Of the just over **,*** tonnes of algae produced annually in France, almost all come from wild seaweed cultivation, with seaweed farming accounting for just *** tonnes by ****. Let's take a look at the specific characteristics of each[***].

Breakdown of seaweed production by cultivation method in France (***) France, ****, in Source: wild cultivation:

Wild ...

3.3 Algae distribution

There are several online sites specializing in the distribution of edible seaweed. They are sold in their pure processed forms (***).

Here are a few examples of specialized online sites: Algues-Alimentaires, Neptune éléments, Algues armoriques et Le quotidien au naturel, Pourdebon, La Paysanne Des Mers.

All these specialized sites emphasize the ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Cultured seaweed is a hundred times more expensive than wild seaweed

In ****, the price of cultivated seaweed will be a hundred times higher than that of wild seaweed: *,*** euros per tonne of cultivated seaweed versus ** euros per tonne of wild seaweed [***].

Difference in seaweed prices according to harvesting methods (***) France, ****, in euros Source: ****

This price difference is explained by a growing demand ...

4.2 Seaweed in all its forms

The range of edible algae

The most widespread types of seaweed for food consumption in raw form are : Wakame, Nori, Sea Spaghetti, Royal Kombu, Dulce, Sea Lettuce. These are all macro-algae.

The edible seaweeds we find most frequently in supermarkets are dehydrated leaves (***), seaweed tartars and spirulina powder.

We're going to ...

4.3 Seaweed at the heart of innovation

Innovations in food

In October ****, start-up Zalg won the SIAL Paris innovation prize for its pan-fried seaweed, marking its ambition to "put seaweed at the heart of the plate", until then marketed mainly as condiments (***). Algama, which raised ** million euros in January ****[***].

In April ****, Edonia, a French startup founded in ****, raised ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Current regulations

French regulations on algae production cover :

Authorized seaweed species The quality of the water in which the algae are grown (***)

Currently, ** types of algae are authorized for human consumption (***) No. ***/** of the European Parliament and of the Council [***]. Other algae are only authorized for use in food supplements.

The list of ...

5.2 France bets on algoculture

France is adopting a national strategy to encourage the development of seaweed farming over the period ****-**** through its Aquaculture Plan ****-****. The goal is to triple algae production by ****. [***].

The main stages of this plan are

Administrative simplification Drafting sanitary standards Supporting Research & Innovation in the sector Promoting the economic ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Positioning the players

We can segment the players in the seaweed market into producers and processors, according to the following non-exhaustive list:

  • Technature
  • L'Oréal Groupe
  • Estée Lauder
  • Olmix
  • Biocean
  • JRS Marine Products
  • Algaia (JRS group)
  • Algama
  • Eranova
  • Algopack
  • Cyanotech
  • AlgaWell
  • Gilbert Groupe
  • Lessonia
  • France Haliotis
  • Vinpai
  • Inalve
  • Zalg

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Growth in the global algae market
  • Breakdown of demand for algae in France
  • Composition of gelling and thickening agents on the market
  • Volume of on-board seaweed fishing between 2018 and 2022
  • Distribution of algae produced by algoculture in France in 2022
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Latest news

Beauty: Estée Lauder cautious about 2024 - 02/05/2024
  • - Acquisition of Tom Ford for $2.3 billion
  • - Double-digit growth in Clinique sales, across all geographic regions
Behind the glamour, L'Oréal's massive investments in its French factories - 01/05/2024
  • - 38 L'Oréal plants worldwide.
  • - 11 plants located in France, employing 3,000 of the country's 15,000 employees.
  • - 500 million euros invested by L'Oréal over the last five years in its French industrial base.
  • - French production accounts for 25% of L'Oréal's worldwide production volume, 80% of which is destined for export.
  • - The Caudry (Nord) plant is one of L'Oréal's largest, with 500 employees and 97% of production supplied to international markets.
  • - 7,000 new products launched each year by L'Oréal.
  • - Prada skincare products and Ralph Lauren fragrances manufactured in France since their integration into L'Oréal in 2019.
  • - 100% of L'Oréal group fragrances are made in France.
Inalve grows microalgae using less water and energy - 30/03/2024
  • - Inalve raised €4.7 million in mid-March.
  • - Founded in 2016, the company aims to be "the leader in biofilm-based microalgae production". -
  • Currently, Inalve's production is around one tonne of "dry equivalent".
  • - Inalve is now focusing on feeding farmed fish rather than farm animals.
  • - The number of employees is expected to rise from 12 to 20 in the coming months.
Green chemistry specialist Olmix strengthens its Plant Care division - 23/02/2024
  • - Olmix is aiming for double-digit growth by 2024.
  • - Olmix is located in Bréhan, Morbihan.
  • - The Olmix group has 900 employees.
  • - Olmix sales exceed 200 million euros.
  • - Olmix was founded in 1995.
  • - Olmix specializes in both the production and distribution of biosourced solutions and targets the seed treatment market.
  • - Olmix operates in the European, Asian and South American markets.
L'Oréal becomes number one in luxury cosmetics and dethrones Estée Lauder - 11/02/2024
  • 2023: the strongest year of sales growth in 20 years
  • L'Oréal, the world leader in this sector, becomes number one in the prestige skincare, make-up and fragrance segment, sold in department stores and perfumeries. It dethrones the American Estée Lauder(Estée Lauder, Clinique, La Mer, Jo Malone, Frédéric Malle, Tom Ford...).
  • sales of L'Oréal Luxe (Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Biotherm, Armani, Kiehl's, Helena Rubinstein...) rose by 4.5% in 2023 to 14.92 billion).
  • L'Oréal has outperformed the luxury goods market for 13 years
  • Total group sales 41.2 billion euros in 2023 (+ 11%).
  • World leader in fragrances and skincare products.
  • Comeback ofHelena Rubinstein, thebrand founded in the United States in the early 20th century and owned by L'Oréal since 1984
  • In 2023, Helena Rubinstein exceeded one billion euros in sales.
  • Sales have increased 10-fold in ten years.
  • L'Oréal Luxe controls 32% of the prestige products market.
  • Perfumes: 20% growth.
  • Success of "La Vie est Belle", Valentino and Prada licensed fragrances (Paradoxe), Yves Saint Laurent's Libre, second best-selling fragrance for women in Europe.
  • Good start for MYSLF
  • The division dedicated to consumer products (L'Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline...) has overtaken L'Oréal Luxe again

Another record year for L'Oréal - 09/02/2024
  • -Cosmetics market growth in 2023: 8.5
  • - Increase in L'Oréal sales in 2023: 7.6% (published), 11% (comparable data)
  • - L'Oréal sales in 2023: 41.18 billion euros
  • - Number of L'Oréal "billionaire" brands in 2023: 12
  • - Growth of L'Oréal's consumer division in 2023: 8.2
  • - L'Oréal consumer division sales in 2023: Over 15 billion euros
  • - L'Oréal Paris sales in 2023: 7 billion euros
  • - L'Oréal dermatological division sales in 2023: 6.4 billion euros
  • - L'Oréal dermatological division growth in 2023: 25.5
  • - Sales growth for L'Oréal's luxury division in 2023: 2% (organic)
  • - L'Oréal luxury division sales in 2023: 14.9 billion euros
  • - L'Oréal growth in Europe in 2023: 14% (published), including 9.2% in the year-end period
  • - L'Oréal growth in the United States in 2023: 10%.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

L'Oréal Groupe
Estée Lauder
JRS Marine Products
Algaia (JRS group)

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