The unit will grow chlorella, which is claimed to be rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals and will be marketed at the functional foods and supplements sector.
Roquette has developed its microalgae business over the past 14 years and built a dedicated research laboratory in 2006. It also launched a dedicated microalgae research programme in 2008.
Six years ago, the company acquired algae production sites in Germany, as well in China in 2009.
A small-scale production site was built in Lestrem in 2012, before the new site, which is Europe’s biggest biorefinery, was opened this year. The plant is also the largest of Roquette’s 21 refining units, where it produces plant-derived starches.
“The industrial unit benefits from the whole infrastructure of the Lestrem site. It also benefits from the group’s expertise in fermentation and in launching and running Roquette’s industrial installations,” said Guillaume Fichet, Lestrem site director.
Chlorella will be fermented in a fully enclosed,protected and controlled environment, said Fichet.
A new range of food ingredients will be made at the site, including Algility, which is a whole algal flour claimed to reduce fats and optimise lipid profiles in foods, while preserving taste, he added.
“Thanks to this investment, Roquette has become a major player in the emerging microalgae sector,” said Fichet. “We are convinced microalgae are an effective answer to consumer concerns about nutrition and well-being.”