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Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy

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Page | Last updated: 08 Mar 2021

Algae production industry in Europe

Learn more about the current status of the algae production industry in Europe.

In a study, published in January 2021 in Frontiers in Marine Science, researchers from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and other organisations mapped 447 algae and Spirulina production units in 23 countries.

Location of Algae production plants
Location of spirulina production plants

According to the results, more than 50% of these companies produce microalgae and/or Spirulina. France, Ireland, and Spain are the top 3 countries in number of macroalgae production companies while Germany, Spain, and Italy stand for the top 3 for microalgae. Spirulina producers are predominantly located in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Number of companies producing algae and spirulina

Macroalgae production is still depending on harvesting from wild stocks (68% of the macroalgae producing units) but macroalgae aquaculture (land-based and at sea) is developing in several countries in Europe currently representing 32% of the macroalgae production units.


Photobioreactors are the predominant production system for microalgae, followed by ponds and fermenters. On the other hand, the main system used to produce Spirulina is ponds with a small fraction using photobioreactors.


Algae biomass is directed primarily for food and food-related applications including the extraction of high-value products for food supplements and nutraceuticals.


Figures in this page: © 2021 Araújo, et al., 2021. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:626389.

Algae production in Europe remains limited by a series of technological, regulatory and market-related barriers. Yet, the results of this study emphasise that the European algae sector has a considerable potential for sustainable development as long as the acknowledged economic, social and environmental challenges are addressed.

Find out more in the scientific publication!