The cultivation of microalgae can be certified as being organic. Microalgae are single-cell algae.
Microalgae in food and in feed
In the past, it was only permitted to use organic microalgae as an ingredient in animal feed but nowadays it may also be used in organic food products. Proteins make up around 40% of microalgae, making microalgae suitable for use in producing proteins. Microalgae are used, for example, in spirulina and chlorella powders and in food supplements. In animal feed, microalgae can be mixed through the feed in liquid or powder form and also as granules.
Cultivation methods and inputs/nutrients
Microalgae can be cultivated using heterotrophic or autotrophic methods. Autotrophic methods use sunlight as the energy source for growth. Only autotrophic methods are permitted for organic microalgae.
Microalgae are subject to the same rules as those set for the cultivation of macroalgae (seaweeds). The inputs must comply with the same conditions as those for other organic farms. This applies to all phases in the microalgae production process. In most systems, the seedbed (input) for algae is the result of an existing process. This process must also comply with organic legislation.
Companies that grow microalgae may add nutrients provided they are specified on the input list and the nutrient levels in the effluents are not higher than those in the inflowing water.
The input list is a public list of products that have been evaluated and which are permitted for use in the organic sector. Skal uses FiBL Switzerland for the evaluation. As aquaculture is a new sector in which different inputs are used than in agriculture, it is advisable to quickly submit the desired inputs for evaluation by FiBL. Suppliers and producers of inputs for aquaculture submit a request for evaluation of their product to FiBL and enter into a contract with FiBL. They are charged for the costs of the evaluation.
The conversion period for a microalgae unit is six months (as for macroalgae) despite the fact that the system can be started up completely clean when cultivating microalgae.
It is not permitted to produce conventional and organic microalgae in parallel at the same company (one legal entity). During the conversion period, your entire company switches to organic production. Another possibility is to start a new company, specifically for the organic cultivation of microalgae. The organic cultivation unit must be completely separate, legally and physically, from the conventional cultivation units of your other company.
The regulations for microalgae are identical to those for seaweed. Article 13 of Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007: basic legislation (PDF)contains more information about the basic requirements. Articles 6, 25, and 29 of Regulation (EC) No. 889/2008: provisions governing implementation (PDF) contain most of the requirements for production.