Danila Chiapperini, Project Manager co-founder ApuliaKundi at Luiss during the "Non Sprecare" award ceremony.
"We distribute our products under the ApuliaKundi brand, a start-up founded in 2016 following a long period of study and research," explains Danila Chiapperini, project manager and ApuliaKundi co-founder together with Raffaele Settanni, Leo Lo Cicero and Mara Zacchino.
Spirulina is the most complete and nourishing plant food. It contains three times the protein of meat (up to 65% more) and is rich in vitamins, mineral salts, antioxidants, Omega 3 and Omega 6. It contains 45 times the iron of spinach, 35 times the beta-carotene of carrots and 9 times the calcium of milk. Spirulina is a powerful antioxidant that favours the purifying action of the liver and kidneys, protects the nervous system, maintains the right level of sugar in the blood, helps skin elasticity and keeps hair, nails and eyes healthy. It protects the organism from diseases, strengthens the immunity system, increases physical resistance and muscular development. In addition, it favours concentration and strengthens the organism.
Mara Zacchino, quality and food security manager, Raffaele Settanni, administrator and founder, Leo Lo Cicero, production manager and Danila Chiapperini, project manager and founder of the brand.
"We started in 2010 thanks to an idea we had while in Malawi. A research team expert in biotechnology assisted us for food quality and safety, environmental monitoring, water treatment and waste storage and management."
"In 2012, we saw a tender from Regione Puglia that promoted young ideas for a better Puglia. We started an experimental research field in cooperation with the University of Bari and founded a Research and popular science association that is still active."
"We then took part in other national tenders and, in 2015, transformed what was a pilot crop in a research start-up producing Spirulina."
"Spirulina is not native to our country, so we grow it in greenhouses to naturally withhold heat during the warmer months and protect crops from possible aerial contamination. The production of Spirulina is non-extensive, so it doesn't subtract fertile ground from food production. It is cultivated in tanks placed in greenhouses."
"We don't produce in winter as temperatures are very low and we would have to use energy to warm up the tanks. It would be a contradiction, given the low environmental impact of producing this micro-algae. This year's high temperatures meant we were able to produce from spring until November. We then maintain the algal strain in the colder months and restart production the following spring."
The facility includes a greenhouse dedicated to the production of Spirulina and research of other micro-algae as well as a monitoring, drying and packaging workshop. The production process is entirely natural and sustainable, no herbicides or pesticides are used.
It requires a lot less water and energy per kg of proteins of any other food; it uses 1/3 of the water needed for soy, 1/6 of that needed for wheat and 1/50 of that needed for beef protein.
The ethical principle behind ApuliaKundi is that sustainability is heavily linked with eating habits, therefore we all have a great responsibility when we make a choice as consumers. "What we put on the table is the result of a production chain with huge effects on our health, economy and environment. For this reason, the eating culture of the global population needs to change towards a healthier and more sustainable diet."
"We are expanding as demand for pure Spirulina from Italy is constantly on the up. At the moment our products are available on the British market and results are promising. Our turnover has grown by 400% compared to last year. In Italy, our products are available in around 70 stores."
"We are now working to meet the increasing demand, promote R&D for additional functional products and strengthen our sales network and internationalisation."
"We produce SpirulinaK in sticks and not in tablets, capsules or pills to differentiate it from what is already available on the market, which comes mostly from outside the EU."
"Our sales channels are: chemists, herbal stores, para-pharmacies, organic stores and stores dedicated to vegan and vegetarian foods. Our products are not available in normal retail stores, but they are available in chains such as Eataly. In addition, we also sell on our website: www.apuliakundi.it/shop/".
ApuliaKundi's business model focuses on green production. Nowadays, algae cultivation is strategic for agriculture also due to its low environmental impact, considering that agriculture is the main source of consumption and pollution. Cultivating Spirulina contributes to reducing greenhouse gases: every kg of dried algae produced captured 2 kg of Co2 from the environment.
"In 2007, FAO defined Spirulina as 'food of the future' for both its nutritional properties and low environmental impact. In addition, considering there are more and more vegans and vegetarians, spirulina is a great alternative to vegetable protein, essential amino acids and B12."