Nannochloropsis is a genus of microalgae from the phylum Ochrophyta, class Eustigmatophyceae. These unicellular algae are spherical or oblong, measuring 2-5 microns in diameter. Nannochloropsis sp. contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is a vegan alternative for fish oil. Moreover, the high protein content in Nannochloropsis makes it a very interesting nutritional profile. Nannochloropsis cell mass comprised 50–55% crude protein. In addition, Nannochloropsis have been used for several decades to produce protein- and lipid-rich aquafeed.
Currently, aquaculture is the fastest-growing food-producing sector in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global fish production was 172.9 million tonnes in 2020.
Fish and fish products are some of the most traded food items globally. In 2018, nearly 67.0 million tonnes of fish (live weight equivalent) were traded internationally for a total export value of $164.0 billion (Source: FAO). Thus, the increasing seafood trade, growth in aquaculture production, and rising seafood consumption among consumers due to the increasing need for protein-rich diets are factors driving the demand for aquafeed across the globe.
The growth, reproduction, and health of fishes are significantly influenced by nutrition and feeding. It also influences their response to physiological and environmental stressors and pathogens. Fish are known to utilize protein preferentially to lipid or carbohydrate as an energy source. Dietary protein is the most important factor affecting the growth performance of fish and its feed costs. Therefore, it is important from a nutritional and economical point of view to improve protein utilization for tissue synthesis rather than for energy use. Moreover, dietary lipids play important roles as a source of energy and essential fatty acids necessary for fish growth and development.
Nannochloropsis is largely utilized in the aquaculture industry as aquafeed due to its nutritional value and ability to produce valuable chemical compounds, such as pigments (zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, canthaxanthin) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA).
Nannochloropsis is currently used in the production of microalgal concentrates for fish hatcheries. Nannochloropsis has potential as both a protein and lipid source for aquafeeds due to its favorable protein and lipid content, as well as its high availability. Nannochloropsis cell mass comprises 50–55% crude protein, which is a good value for a whole-cell ingredient in aquafeeds. Generally, salmonids require 36–38% digestible protein (dry-matter basis) in their diets, although this reduces to 29% for tilapia, an omnivorous fish. Thus, the growing aquaculture industry and growing demand for protein and lipid-rich aquafeed are expected to drive the growth of the Nannochloropsis market across the globe.
Currently, several key Nannochloropsis manufacturers such as Monzón Biotech S.L (Spain), Shaivaa Algaetech (India), Reed Mariculture Inc. (U.S.), Algagen LLC (U.S.), and Proviron Industries NV (Belgium) offer protein and lipid-rich Nannochloropsis aquafeed throughout the world.
Meticulous Research®, in its latest publication on the ‘Nannochloropsis Market,’ states that the Nannochloropsis market is expected to reach $15.8 million by 2028, at a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period 2021 to 2028.
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