Algae in Asia-Pacific: What makes APAC one of the leading global markets for algae?

Learn why APAC is one of the leading markets in the world for algae extraction, consumption, and end-product formulation.

A noticeable population is moving towards a cruelty-free and vegan world. For those who make and sell CPG products, finding alternatives that suit the preferences and demands of these consumers is paramount. Increasingly, manufacturers are finding the answer in algae.

In the nutrition industry, algae protein provides health benefits while contributing toward a sustainable environment and reducing carbon footprints. Products like dietary supplements, cosmetics, and beverages all use algae ingredients today. The algae-based product market is picking up pace among formulators, creating products for everyone from athletes to the elderly population.

Different types of algae ingredients are sold in a variety of forms, such as powders (mixed in juices), tablets, or softgel capsules. These ingredients, which contain valuable protein, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids, are not only ideal for humans but for animal feed as well.

Application and Consumption of Algae in Asia-Pacific

APAC is one of the leading markets in the world for algae extraction, consumption, and end-product formulation.

China is the largest producer of algae, South Korea stands second, and then comes Japan. Domestic players and suppliers use algae products in different end-applications. Algae products are also exported from APAC to other nations, where the demand is continuously growing.

Let’s look at the variety of algae types and their consumption across APAC.

Astaxanthin

Extracted from Haematococcus pluvialis, astaxanthin has extremely powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fatigue, and fertility properties. Astaxanthin promises and proves to pose great benefits for immune, heart, brain, and eye health.

Astaxanthin is used extensively in dietary supplements and even sports nutrition products, as well as in snacks, ready-to-eat meals, and beauty supplements. Astaxanthin is sold in a variety of grades and forms, including powder, oil, and cold-water-dispersible powder. Demand for natural sources of astaxanthin is soaring even though cheaper synthetic options are available.

Countries such as China and India are aggressively contributing to the market demand. Due to this, astaxanthin in APAC is predicted to grow at a 12% CAGR by 2025. In terms of astaxanthin production, production is highest in China, and so is the export capability. Overall, astaxanthin consumption is elevated over the entire APAC region, followed by North America.

Fucoxanthin

Fucoxanthin is another popular form of algae that is extracted from brown-green seaweed—most commonly Japanese seaweed. This algae offers diverse functionality and can be categorized as being antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in nature. Fucoxanthin is used primarily in beverages like nutritional drinks and sports drinks, as well as in snacks and even in some personal care sub-categories.

China accounts for nearly half of the regional APAC demand for fucoxanthin, per 2020 statistics, followed by the rest of Asia-Pacific. Fucoxanthin sales are expected to grow at an above-average CAGR by 2025. This will include slight demand in North America but highest growth in APAC.

Spirulina

Spirulina is available in tablet and powder form, providing enriching vitamins, protein, copper, essential amino acids, carotenoids, and iron. It is widely used as a food colorant and dietary supplement.

Spirulina provides a rich green color to smoothies and protein shakes. This kind of algae is great for heart health as it helps in lowering cholesterol while having anti-inflammatory effects. Due to its high vitamin content, spirulina is extensively commercialized for sports nutrition products. Animal feed also contains high amounts of spirulina, making it a strong and soaring market in the coming future.

China is the leading producer and consumer of spirulina, while other high-end consumer populations reside in Australia, Japan, and South Korea. The expected CAGR for spirulina is likely to be in the double digits by 2025, with high chances of rapid growth due to the above-listed benefits by 2028. Countries such as New Zealand, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam, among others, have plausible growth opportunities in spirulina as well.

Chlorella

Chlorella is a type of microalgae used in different forms, both natural or supplemented grades, because of its nutritional properties. This type of algae is used in dietary supplements and food ingredients because of its high protein content. Apart from this, chlorella has antiaging, antioxidant, anti–hair loss, and anti-dandruff properties.

Fat, carbohydrates, and sodium are the other three top nutrients found in this algae. Drinks such as green smoothies, plant-based mass gainers, protein shakes, etc., contain chlorella, making it a highly sought-after ingredient in the sports nutrition category. The end-products come in a variety of textured profiles, including chewy, softgel, moist, and crunchy products.

Japan and South Korea lead the market share for chlorella-based products in Asia-Pacific, be it in animal feed or human nutrition. China, Australia, Indonesia, and India hold a small yet significant market share; combined, they account for one-third of the entire APAC market alone. The market of chlorella is supposedly going to have a moderate CAGR by 2025.

Future Growth and Market

The market for algae-based products is moving upward with promising momentum. Although algae is quite a phenomenon in Asia-Pacific, slowly and steadily its roots have been spreading to Europe and North America as well.

All over APAC, the production, consumption, and export of algae are on the high end. This is giving a push to novel and veteran players to either join the market or expand their product lines using these algae. The footprint of algae-based products is primed for growth in Asia-Pacific in the coming years.

About the Author

Jasleen Kaur (jasleen.kaur@chembizr.com) is a content lead and brand manager for ChemBizR. ChemBizR is a boutique business research and consulting partner of chemical companies globally, involved in addressing companies’ critical business challenges and strategic growth initiatives to help them transform their enterprise for sustainable growth in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving environment. For more information, e-mail connect@chembizr.com.