Arthrospira (Spirulina) is currently grown commercially in several countries. The major producers of Spirulina are the DIC group of companies, Earthrise Nutritionals in California, USA; Hainan DIC Marketing in Hainan Island, China; and Siam Algae Company in Bangkok, Thailand. Together these facilities produce about 1000 metric tons of Spirulina annually. The other major producer is Cyanotech Corporation of Hawaii with an annual production of 300 tons of Spirulina. There are also many producers mainly from the Asia-Pacific region, especially in China and India.47 According to Wu,48 there were once between 100 and 120 producers of Spirulina in China with annual production ranging from 15 to 300 tons. Total production during that period was estimated to be about 500 tons. Current production of Spirulina in China is estimated to be about 1500 tons. It is difficult to know the total worldwide production of Spirulina. It is probably in the order of 3000-4000 metric tons (personal communication with producers and researchers).
Currently Spirulina is used in various food application such as juice smoothies, confectionary, food bars, baked desserts, doughnuts, muffins, pasta, salad dressing, frozen desserts, snack foods, popcorn, corn chips, crackers, breakfast cereals, liquid or instant meals, instant soup, gnocchi, and even specialty beer. Spirulina is also widely used as an animal feed supplement.49 The increasing scientific and clinical evidence for its nutritional and potential health benefits50 is also attracting its use as a functional food in addition to its already established use as a dietary supplement.
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