Japan’s Nissui Invests in Australian Asparagopsis Startup

 Seagriculture EU 2024

Asparagopsis armata is a red seaweed native to the cool waters of Australia’s southern coastline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nissui Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar marine products company headquartered in Tokyo, has invested in the seaweed business Seascape Restorations Australia Pty. Ltd. (renamed “Immersion Group”) of Victoria, Australia. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Immersion Group specializes in the cultivation of Asparagopsis, a type of red seaweed that contributes to the reduction of methane emissions from ruminants and is attracting attention as a global warming countermeasure in the livestock industry. Asparagopsis has been shown to suppress methane emissions from cattle by up to 98% by inhibiting methanogenic bacteria and has also been found to improve growth by up to 22%–26% by improving metabolism.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) established a commercial entity, FutureFeed, which holds two patents for the use of Asparagopsis for reduction of methane in ruminant livestock. Immersion Group is one of nine FutureFeed licence holders globally, and the only company with permission to sell Asparagopsis into Japan.

Immersion Group is a start-up company founded by Dr. John Statton and Scott Elliott in 2021. Since then, it has established technology for producing Asparagopsis seedlings and developed its own highly efficient land-based aquaculture system, with plans to build a pilot plant to commercialize it. Elliott said the Nissui investment would allow rapid scaling of the company’s proprietary production technique for Asparagopsis onshore.

Nissui plans to support Immersion Group’s construction of a pilot plant near Geelong in Victoria, Australia, and expansion of processing bases, as well as to verify the effectiveness and safety of the product and conduct test sales in Japan starting in 2024 to confirm the feasibility of commercialization. Nissui also expects synergies in developing seaweed land-based aquaculture know-how and technology through the collaboration with Immersion Group.

Beyond contributing to global warming countermeasures, Nissui positions this collaboration as a new “food” initiative that will lead to the realization of a sustainable future.

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