The sustainable seaweed farming company Olmix uses algae and clay to create food and fertiliser free of antibiotics and pesticides.

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Olmix CEO - Hervé Balusson ©Olmix Group

In Brittany, France, Hervé Balusson is trying to teach the world about the many benefits of sustainable seaweed farming.

His company, Olmix, uses algae and clay to create better food and fertiliser that can improve the nutrition, hygiene and health of plants, animals and humans.

>@Olmix Group
©Olmix Group

Olmix, which was founded in 1995, now has 800 employees and EUR 160 million in annual turnover. It runs its own training programme, the Breizh Algae School, on the farm where Balusson was born, teaching people how algae can help them farm without pesticides, antibiotics or chemical additives.

"When I said that I was going to make a seaweed chicken, everyone laughed,” says Balusson, referring to a programme he created that raises chickens fed with seaweed. “But the project was well received in Japan and China, which allowed the development of the company internationally”.
The European Investment Bank backed Olmix with a EUR 30 million loan in September 2017. The Bank liked the company’s plan to help feed the world sustainably. "Olmix meets the European objectives of promoting marine biological resources, promotingalgae for sustainable agriculture and having a positive impact on the environment,” says Sébastien Collot, an EIB engineer who worked on the project.

Sustainable seaweed farming

Across Europe, policymakers agree that we do not invest enough in our future, compared to the United States. The EIB and the European Commission are trying to fix this lack of investment with the European Fund for Strategic Investments  (EFSI). Jérôme Marcelino, the EIB loan officer in charge of the Olmix deal, says EFSI allows the EIB to “take on additional risks to finance innovation at conditions that no other commercial banks offer, hence contributing to filling the investment gap in the EU."

Better cultivation equals better food

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©Olmix Group

Olmix is developing innovative products in three areas:

For crops, it is using algae to improve soil quality, making the ground more fertile and improving plants’ natural defences. This will increase productivity without reducing the quality of crops. 

For animals, it is improving feed by adding proteins and trace elements of algae to prevent a loss of appetite and a weakening of the immune system of livestock.

For humans, it is using natural, active ingredients in food to provide health benefits and limit the use of chemical additives, providing safer solutions for the food industry.

>@Olmix Group
©Olmix Group

Balusson says the EIB financing will help him attract other investors for his algae projects, which have a total cost of more than EUR 70 million.

His company’s use of marine biotechnology is important to a European Commission programme called Horizon 2020, which encourages more innovation and breakthroughs by taking great ideas from the lab to the market agenda. Global companies like Olmix offer benefits to Europe and the world.

We always reason that the Earth is one and so we have built a network all over the world.

  • says Balusson