Appetite For Algae: Can This Powerful Plant Protein Make The Global Food Chain More Sustainable?

Photo from Pond Technologies Corporate Presentation, showing existing commercial production and extraction of astaxanthin at Pond’s Canadian facility

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As it stands, food production accounts for a third of all greenhouse emissions. The overwhelming majority of these food-related emissions come from meat production, especially beef. The modern Western diet, with its love of all things meat, is increasingly being seen as relatively unsustainable.

In the West, beef is king, and no food is more taxing on the environment than raising cattle.

New companies like Beyond Meat Inc. BYND are trying to provide alternatives. Even large, food processing companies like Hormel Foods Corp

HRL have invested in the space.

But these alternatives, though much better than their meat-based analogs, have issues of their own. Most of these are pea or soy-based, and producing these crops is still relatively energy-intensive — most staple crops only convert about 1% of the energy they photosynthesize into usable energy for human consumption. Large swaths of land and ever-more-scarce fresh water must be employed to produce these crops.

A solution that produces fewer greenhouse gasses, is highly efficient, nutrient-dense, and deployable is arguably in order, and one company thinks that algae might be the answer.

Having been relegated to the role of “pond scum or biofuel” in many people’s imaginations, this plant species, an ancient food source for thousands of years, is now realizing its potential as a global staple crop providing sustainable protein while reducing CO2 emissions as it grows.

Algae species like spirulina are packed with micro and macronutrients alike. An equal amount by weight contains three times the amount of protein as beef and tons of micronutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, phycocyanin, B vitamins, and vitamin A.

Critically, algae is significantly less resource-intensive than plant options like soy or corn. Cultivating it requires about 1 percent of the land of normal staple crops. 

Pond Technologies Holdings Inc. PONDPNDHF hopes to help transition the world’s food chain to a more sustainable model using this powerful plant. The company designs and operates algae bioreactors that attach to existing industrial outputs – smokestacks – and clean the emissions. The CO2 actually fuels the algae’s growth, a mutually beneficial relationship for all involved.

To learn more about Pond and the products it produces from algae, check out

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