In 2000, the world production of macroalgae cultivation reached almost 7 million tons of fresh algae, that is about 88% of the world alga production. Although production is usually both local and for direct human consumption, in the last few years some Asian countries have started commercializing edible species. These countries are mainly China and Korea, which export to Japan.
Besides the food aspect, macroalgae are also cultivated for their content in “ phycocolloids ”, the polysaccharides used in numerous industrial applications.
The cultivation of microalgae is at a much smaller scale than that of macroalgae, although numerous research efforts are being made in this domain. Although microalgae are used directly in human food or for the production of commercially viable molecules, they are mainly sold as fodder for farmed animal, especially shellfish.