Marine resources gave rise to new food and cosmetic products at ValorMar

The balance of ValorMar, which, between October 2017 and July 2021, studied an efficient use of marine resources is “very positive”, told Lusa Marlos Silva, Sonae MC's project director. This project, led by Sonae MC, in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine and Environmental Research of the University of Porto (CIIMAR) and Fórum Oceano, represented an investment of around eight million euros, co-financed by the Portugal 2020 programme, and combined another 29 Portuguese academic and business entities.

The initiative leaves new products and processes that make it possible to value national marine resources, promoting sustainability, decarbonisation and the circularity of the economy. In terms of food, new preserves, sauces and even cereal bars were developed that incorporate marine resources, but also more sustainable packaging, explained the responsible for the project. “These are not entirely strange products, such as insects, which cause a lot of interest, because they are absolutely new things, but they are not common products either. We are talking about replacing some ingredients that do not come from the sea, with endogenous “sea products”, he said.

For Marlos Silva, “by adopting these new products, the consumer and society gain a healthy alternative, an equally tasty alternative, but also an alternative that is more sustainable”. The “most exploratory axis” of this initiative explored marine biorefineries to “understand other ways to value these resources”, having been developed, “on a laboratory scale, some cosmetic products, some creams, especially skin care products”.

Once developed, these new products may hit shelves “very soon” if they are incorporated by suppliers. “Some compounds for environmental remediation” were also produced, such as the use of algae “for cleaning estuaries and polluted water flows”. Within the scope of the initiative, efforts were also made to change the consumption patterns of fish, with the creation of a traceability system, which "intends to provide the information sector, digitise a set of processes" and provide data "on the origin, the species, fishing gear and place of capture”.

To contribute to a better management of wild fish stocks, the project also invested in aquaculture, with the provision of “more efficient technologies”. Sonae MC's project director states that there is still “some lack of knowledge and some prejudice in which it is believed that aquaculture fish has a quality, in terms of taste and nutritional value, inferior to wild fish, which is not true”. With this bet, it is expected that, “increasingly, the consumer will be able to count on this national production than on imports”. Once the project is completed, ValorMar “delivers a much stronger sector and a series of collaborations that will continue to take place in other contexts, in the same line of increasing the value of marine resources”, said Marlos Silva.