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Status Quo of Domestic and Foreign Spirulina Industry Development

The first spirulina cultivation and processing plant was founded in 1973, witnessing the development of this industry in the past 30 plus years. During the period from 1980 to 2004, the demand of spirulina in the global market experienced a steady growth. Currently various spirulina products can be found in markets in over 80 countries on five continents with increasing sales.

1.The present development of spirulina production overseas

The first spirulina factory was built by Sosa Teccoco and now its output maintains around 300 tons. Later Japanese Color & Comfort by Chemistry (DIC) established its spirulina factories in Bangkok and the US with rising yields in following years. American Cyanotech also starts a spirulina factory in an uninhabited island of Hawaii which turns to be the most important one in the world.

In recent years foreign spirulina production keeps increasing. According to incomplete statistics, till 1992, there were 12 foreign spirulina corporations in Mexico, Thailand, the US, Japan, Israel, Taiwan, etc, with an annual output of 1200 tons (dry weight). The annual market demand in Japan totals 500-550 tons, among which 150 tons goes to health care products, 100 tons to bait and 300 tones to natural pigment purification. America produces about 1000 tons of spirulina annually and also imports algae powder from Mexico, boasting both the largest producer and consumer of spirulina in the world.

Decades ago spirulina was the luxury affordable only to a few people in developed countries. Yet since the 1980s, with its high nutrient value, fine digestibility, high yield, low contamination rate in outdoor cultivation and fine adaptability, spirulina has been popularized by the UN as an ideal food to relieve child malnutrition in developing countries.

2.The present development of spirulina production in China

Currently China serves as the largest producer of spirulina dry powder in the world. However, due to little knowledge about spirulina of the public, most of the spirulina dry powder produced by Chinese corporations goes overseas. 

Spirulina industry starts later in China than in foreign countries. Though experienced fast development these years, spirulina industry in China still mainly focuses on algae powder export and rough processing with low additional value and little economic benefit. During the 1970s and 1980s, Spirulina was listed in the National Key Project Program in the 7th Five Year Plan and Promotion Project in the 8th Five Year Plan. The first spirulina plant in China was founded in Chenghan, Yunnan in 1985 and the year 1988 saw the successful experiment of spirulina cultivation in Guangxi Medical University. Till 1996, 14 provinces were engaged in the development of spirulina industry.

Though spirulina industry in China still constitutes mainly of powder export and rough processing with low additional value and little economic benefit, it boasts a bright future with social and economic development as well as the improvement of people’s living standards.

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