Founded in 2016, Algaia, a company specialising in the industrial processing of algae, is growing rapidly. It is continuing to build on this momentum by constantly innovating and expanding its product range with new processes developed in–house.
“Our company has grown and evolved rapidly. As early as 2017, we acquired an industrial site in Finistère, where we process seaweed harvested at sea a few kilometres away. This proximity allows us to work with fresh seaweed, thus optimising the functionalities of our products, while reducing our carbon footprint by favouring short circuits,” explains Frédéric Faure, co–founder and managing director of the company.
Algaia works mainly with three varieties of algae: laminaria digitata, laminaria hyperborea and ascophyllum nodosum, from which it extracts compounds used in the food, cosmetics and medical device sectors. The food industry represents 90% of our activity,” continues Frédéric Faure. Our products mainly provide texture thanks to alginates, which have stabilising, thickening and gelling properties. In cosmetics, these are the same functions that are sought after, “and which make it possible to give ” consistency ” to shampoos, creams or even liquid soaps. In the medical world, alginate paste is used by dentists, for example, to make dental impressions.
Algae for agriculture
The company has also set up an R&D centre in Saint–Lô in Normandy, “to develop and perfect new biorefinery technologies that will then be deployed on our industrial site with the ultimate goal of developing new products and eventually recovering up to 100% of the raw material taken from the sea. For example, we have just added a new production unit in which we have been producing biostimulants since 2019, obtained by co–extraction, for use in agriculture as an alternative to the more conventional fertilisers and pesticides produced by petrochemistry.“ Frédéric Faure is convinced that these new applications represent a future market for the company: “We extract from our algae the various sugars that ‘awaken’ certain natural defence properties in plants. These compounds, sprayed during specific phases of the plant’s development, such as germination, stimulate the plants and activate natural mechanisms that will protect them in the long term. Although it cannot be called a “vaccination”, the mechanism is quite similar in principle. All the field trials carried out in various countries such as France, Brazil, India, etc., are giving convincing results. We are convinced of the potential of these new products that are effective and have no negative impact on the environment. Especially in an environmental context such as the one we have today. And Frédéric Faure concludes: “We are obviously in a business and profitability logic, but also in a sustainable development logic.”