Seaweed is often associated with Asian cuisine. This narrative may be about to change, though, as there is an army of startup founders, farmers, product developers, and investors that are betting it will soon be part of all our stable diets.
Fans tout seaweed’s environmental credentials, capturing Co2 and protecting coasts from erosion. Farming also requires no fertilizers, no freshwater, and it’s often done by fishermen in the offseason, supporting the economy of coastal communities.
According to data from Seaweed for Europe, a pro-seaweed lobbying group, it could create up to 85,000 jobs over the next decade and be worth €9bn in Europe alone in 2030. So which are the startups attempting to capitalize on this trend? And what are the challenges they face?
Seaweed can be used for endless products: food, animal feed, cosmetics, bioplastics, and even clothing. France’s Bord à Bord and the UK’s Mara Seaweed, The Cornish Seaweed Company, and Shore make flakes, crisps, and sauces to spice up to the usual snacks, while Germany’s Nordic Oceanfruit has developed a range of salads and is launching fake tuna next month.
In Sweden, Volta Greentech is developing a feed supplement designed to improve the environmental impact of the dairy and beef industry. It has been shown that adding seaweed to cows’ diet cuts the emissions of their farts and burps by 80%.
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