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Process and economic feasibility for the production of functional food from the brown alga Ecklonia radiata

Charoensiddhi, Suvimol, Lorbeer, Andrew J., Franco, Christopher M.M., Su, Peng, Conlon, Michael A., Zhang, Wei
Algal research 2018 v.29 pp. 80-91
Ecklonia radiata, batch systems, beverages, economic feasibility, fractionation, functional foods, macroalgae, molecular weight, plant extracts, profitability
This article provides a case-study for the simulated industrial-scale production of high-value functional food products from the brown seaweed Ecklonia radiata. Three process scenarios at a batch processing scale of 2000kg seaweed were assessed for their economic feasibility: Scenario 1: Enzyme-assisted production of a crude seaweed extract; Scenario 2: Scenario 1, followed by fractionation based on different molecular weights (MW); Scenario 3: Ethanolic extraction, followed by enzyme-assisted extraction and separation into high and low MW fractions. Scenario 2 demonstrated greater profitability, with a payback time of 1.6years and a net present value (NPV) twice that of Scenario 1 (2.1years and US$ 45.03M). Scenario 3 was not economically feasible, with a negative NPV and payback time that was three times longer than Scenario 1. To improve profitability, Scenario 4 was assessed, which integrated Scenario 1 (at the batch processing scale of 500kg seaweed) with formulation of the extract as a functional ingredient into a juice-based beverage. This process was more profitable than Scenario 1, with a payback time and NPV of 1.1years and US$ 89.43M, respectively.