Microalgal bloom in rural Queensland

Algae Pharm, part of the Woods Group, based in the south-west Queensland town of Goondiwindi, has pioneered a state-of-the-art microalgae farm. 

Microalgae is a highly sustainable and rich source of Omega-3 that Algae Pharm is looking to use in a wide range of products including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, stock feed, animal feed, and fertilisers. 

Microalgae is an ideal product for Woods Group as it grows quickly in the South-West Queensland sun and offers a solution to the agribusiness’ aim to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. 

Woods Group generates carbon emissions through its agricultural and manufacturing operations and intends to use its microalgae ponds as a carbon sink, thus offsetting emissions in other areas of the business.

Microalgae is quickly gaining commercial viability as everyday Australians demonstrate a greater awareness about the environmental and health impacts of their consumption choices. In response to overfishing, consumers are looking to take the middleman (fish) out of the equation by going straight to the source (algae) for their Omega-3 fatty acids. 

Therefore, finding innovative and efficient ways to produce microalgae could help to reduce overfishing by replacing household fish oil tablets with plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid products.

Adept Economics has had the pleasure of being involved with Algae Pharm since 2017 and watched operations successfully develop from trial phases to commercial-scale production and harvesting. Just last week, in mid-September 2021, Algae Pharm commenced another harvest (see photo below).

You may be asking how much microalgae you need to get your Omega-3 fix. The answer is: a lot. 

Fortunately, South-West Queensland’s constant sunlight, clean air, and stable climate make it an ideal location for cultivating algae at Algae Pharm. 

The cultivation system concentrates water, non-potable recycled water, sunlight, CO2, and other nutrients into ponds before filtering, processing, reducing, and packaging the microalgae for use (see picture below). 

The technique was developed in partnership with leading Australian universities and received $579,000 in funding from the Advance Queensland Biofuture Commercialisation Program in 2017, according to a Cabinet Statement. Three years later, the Algae Pharm operation was named the “Winner of Queensland Chief Entrepreneur 2020 Innovation Award: Seriously, Watch This Space”. 

For more information on Algae Pharm and its operations, check out this ABC article

Adept Economics looks forward to the day Algae Pharm products can be found on supermarket shelves.


Published on 22 September 2021. This article was prepared by Adept Economics Research Officer Ben Scott and Director Gene Tunny. Please get in touch with any questions or comments by emailing us via contact@adepteconomics.com.au or call us on 1300 169 870.

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