Many food products claim to be superfood, although majority of them does not live up to the expectation. Spirulina, on the other hand, can safely claim the title of a superfood. It is one of the most nutrient rich and powerful foods you can find on our planet.
Spirulina is a blue – green algae that grows naturally in ponds. It contains incredibly high levels of protein and is a good source of antioxidants, B- vitamins and other nutrients. It contains 65% to 71 % of protein in dry weight, 15x more beta- carotene than carrots, 25x richer in naturally available iron than in spinach and 1.5x more calcium than in milk. Due to these incredible properties of spirulina, their demand is greater than ever in the global market.
Apart from health benefits, spirulina can be harvested to produce a highly potent bio-fuel. Recognizing its value as a promising replacement for conventional fuels government, corporate and private investors are pouring in money into R&D to grow algae and extract oil from it.
In 1979, spirulina was sold in US market as a new superfood, which gained credibility and demand. Sensing the growing rise in demand for spirulina products in the global market, a number of farms started growing and exporting spirulina, as early as 1981. California was home to some of the first spirulina farms and exporters in the country.
In 1981, Earthrise Farms was established in Imperial Valley, California as the first spirulina farm in the country. Within a decade they expanded the farms to108 acres and by 1990’s Earthrise farms became the world’s largest producers of spirulina with production over 500 tons per year.
Smart Microfarms based in based in Richmond, California is another successful spirulina farmer and exporter in the country. They have developed a series of home growing systems for spirulina including indoor aquariums, outdoor deck growing modules and backyard micro ponds. Smart Microfarms in Washington, is unique in the way they have achieved successful method of growing spirulina in colder climates. They are also involved in developing and testing practical microfarms in urban, community, rooftop, mobile and vertical gardens. They have been exporting spirulina to countries like China, France, Netherlands and Japan for decades.
Another major exporter of spirulina in USA is NutraBusiness. They boast a global customer base. They export spirulina products to various countries including Germany, Mauritius, Israel, Hungary, Australia and France.
Export industry of spirulina in USA is booming by the minute. Its uses as a superfood and possibilities as a viable replacement for conventional fuels promise a steady increase in its demand in the future. The high cost of growing and harvesting spirulina, is the main problem that the niche industry is facing. Promising news about new breakthrough cultivation and extraction methods keep popping up now and then, but any significant development that may bring down the initial cost is yet to come up. With advancement in technology, spirulina exporters may soon find a way to increase supply to meet the huge demand in the countries like France, Netherlands, China and India.