Food Ingredients and Nutraceuticals from Microalgae: Main Product Classes and Biotechnological Production

Regina Kratzer, Michael Murkovic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Microalgal products are an emerging class of food, feed, and nutraceuticals. They include dewatered or dried biomass, isolated pigments, and extracted fat. The oil, protein, and antioxidant-rich microalgal biomass is used as a feed and food supplement formulated as pastes, powders, tablets, capsules, or flakes designed for daily use. Pigments such as astaxanthin (red), lutein (yellow), chlorophyll (green), or phycocyanin (bright blue) are natural food dyes used as isolated pigments or pigment-rich biomass. Algal fat extracted from certain marine microalgae represents a vegetarian source of n-3-fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), γ-linolenic acid (GLA)). Gaining an overview of the production of microalgal products is a time-consuming task. Here, requirements and options of microalgae cultivation are summarized in a concise manner, including light and nutrient requirements, growth conditions, and cultivation systems. The rentability of microalgal products remains the major obstacle in industrial application. Key challenges are the high costs of commercial-scale cultivation, harvesting (and dewatering), and product quality assurance (toxin analysis). High-value food ingredients are commonly regarded as profitable despite significant capital expenditures and energy inputs. Improvements in capital and operational costs shall enable economic production of low-value food products going down to fishmeal replacement in the future economy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1626
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Food Physics and Food (Bio)Chemistry
  • Growth conditions
  • Microalgae cultivation
  • N-3-fatty acids
  • Food ingredient
  • Microalgal pigments
  • Cultivation systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Food Science
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Microbiology

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology


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