The micro-algae powerhouse - bringing microalgae innovations to the world

 Doron Safrai. (photo credit: PR)
Doron Safrai.
(photo credit: PR)

The desert can be full of surprises. Solabia-Algatech Nutrition, located in Israel’s Arava desert valley, is the world’s most innovative producer of commercial microalgae, single-cell life forms that are the source of an amazing variety of health-enhancing nutrients. At its 100,000 square meter (1M SQ feet) micro-algae production facility – the world’s largest – located between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, the company manufactures micro-algae products that are integral ingredients in dietary supplements used worldwide by hundreds of millions of people.

“The story of Solabia- Algatech Nutrition is a special story,” says company CEO Doron Safrai. “In 1998, the founders decided to establish a company that would promote wellness, in of all places, Israel’s Arava desert.”  Algatech was established at Kibbutz Ketura in southern Israel, just 50 kilometers north of Eilat, as a pilot plant to commercialize cultivation techniques developed at Ben Gurion University, a leading microalgae research institute – a relationship the company maintains to this day. Algatech was acquired  in 2019 by the Solabia Group, a French cosmetic,biotech and pharmaceutical firm. 

Most members of the Solabia- Algatech team live in the southern Arava desert, near the company plant, and hail from  more than 15 different countries worldwide.

Safrai says that the majority of the company’s employees are academics with advanced degrees. 

Most microalgae plants produce one or two varieties at most, explains Safrai. Solabia - Algatech produces five different microalgae products that are used as health and dietary supplements, cosmetics, and for aquaculture. They are 100% natural and vegan, he adds, and the company’s production methods do not pollute or damage the environment. Solabia-Algatech uses the sun energy for the microalgae growth and underground water supply that lies one kilometer beneath the Arava sands. 

What makes microalgae unique? “Microalgae is an important part of the food chain and has been a part of the human daily diet for thousands of years,” says Safrai. “They contain amino acids, antioxidants, lipids, and are a unique source that contributes to wellness.” Many people consider microalgae to be the new superfood. Safrai points out that many people today are searching for solutions to prevent illness and disease before they strike, and microalgae is that type of solution.

Microalgae are particularly valued today, he notes, because in these post-pandemic times, people are looking for natural, life-prolonging solutions that strengthen the body’s immune system. In addition, young people today who value sustainability appreciate Solabia-Algatech Nutrition products because they are fully sustainable and environmentally friendly.  

The factory in the Arava desert. Credit -  PRThe factory in the Arava desert. Credit - PR

Solabia - Algatech Nutrition produces its microalgae products in Israel, and its products are incorporated into most of the leading brands used in health and dietary supplements as the active ingredient in these products. As such, Solabia - Algatech products are present in more than 40 countries worldwide. They are produced in several different delivery forms, including powder, softgel, capsules and gummies, organic versions and meet all health requirements and regulations in the US and around the world. 

Solabia - Algatech CEO Safrai details the five different microalgae products made by the company:

Astaxanthin, one of the most powerful antioxidants known in nature. Its unique structure enables the protection of the cells from harmful reactive oxygen molecules that damage cells and organs. With over 600 studies conducted Astaxanthin was shown to be beneficial for a variety of applications, including: Healthy inflammatory response, physical endurance and recovery, skin health, cardiovascular health, cognitive health and eye health.

Fucoxanthin, an orange-brown carotenoid, produced by cultivated microalgae .Fucoxanthin in the form of a dietary supplement is an effective ingredient targeting liver health, glucose and triglycerides management.

Beta Glucan, an active ingredient scientifically proven to support the immune system and its response. Can be used in dietary supplements and cosmetics.

Nannochloropsis, an excellent source of protein and unique lipid composition including omega 3 and fatty acids, specifically EPA. Nannochloropsis is widely used in many aquaculture hatcheries and can also be utilized for the production of oil for cosmetics and for use as a dietary supplement.

Porphyridium, this microalgae contain pigments, poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), phycobiliproteins and up to 40% polysaccharides. Porphyridium have shown great potential in cosmetic, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and industrial applications.

As of 2021, Solabia-Algatech Nutrition is marketing several products produced by Solabia plants in France and Brazil, including unique and effective prebiotic and mineral salts with active physiological carrier, providing better efficacy. 

What is Solabia- Algatech Nutrition planning for the future? “Our strategy is simple,” says Safrai. “We will continue to develop new products which will contribute to health and wellbeing, with an emphasis on sustainability, natural and vegan products. Our company’s organic growth will also continue through the acquisition of new technologies.” The desert can, indeed, be full of surprises, and Solabia-Algatech Nutrition is one of the Arava desert’s most fascinating wonders.

This article is taken from The Jerusalem Post Israel Technology and Innovation Magazine 2022. To read the entire magazine, click here.

This article was written in cooperation with Solabia-Algatech Nutrition