The viability of feeding seaweed to cows. An assessment of the key opportunities and barriers facing the commercialization of factory-produced Asparagopsis taxiformis as a methane-reducing additive for dairy cows in Sweden.

University essay from Lunds universitet/Internationella milj├Âinstitutet

Abstract: An estimated 6% of human greenhouse gas emissions are the result of enteric methane production by cows. Asparagopsis taxiformis, a semi-tropical alga, is one solution. Supplementation of this alga to cows at a small percentage of their daily intake has reduced methane emissions by over 98% in trials. This success has led to multiple commercialization attempts globally, although no Asparagopsis taxiformis company has yet proved its viability. This thesis investigates the commercial viability of factory Asparagopsis taxiformis production, via a case study. The focal firm is Swedish start-up Volta Greentech, the first and only factory-based Asparagopsis taxiformis producers. This work draws on grounded theory and stakeholder theory perspectives to elicit key opportunities and barriers facing the case-study firm. Data was collected from interviews with 26 key external stakeholders and 7 team members, 2 multi-day observations of company operations, a workshop with the team and extensive literature and grey paper review. Three major barriers - production of Asparagopsis taxiformis, risks associated with Asparagopsis taxiformis and competition from other enteric-methane-reducing measures were identified and investigated further. Six short-term opportunities were also identified and investigated. These are political support, celebrity endorsement, a new funding mechanism for the Asparagopsis-taxiformis-fed cow-products, collaboration with other algae experts, symbiotic production mechanisms in the factory and capitalizing on alternative uses of Asparagopsis taxiformis. This investigation concludes that Volta Greentech is a radical and innovative venture, and a useful model for understanding factory produced Asparagopsis taxiformis production. This case is used to highlight how and why support should be provided for such innovative ventures.

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