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The global commercial seaweed market is expected to be driven by multiple applications of seaweed. Seaweeds are used as a food source (in several coastal regions), in industrial applications and as fertiliser. Present uses of seaweed include foods for human consumption, animal feed, cosmetics, fertilisers, and for the extraction of industrial gums and chemicals. Asia, in particular Japan, Korea and China, are key producers and consumers of seaweed. North America and Europe are markets with significant potential.
Increasing research into seaweeds is expected to boost market growth. For example, in 2021, it was reported that scientists at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast would feed seaweed to farm animals to cut down methane by at least thirty percent. Adding seaweed to animal feed to decrease methane gas released into the atmosphere by ruminants’ burping and flatulence was a relatively novel idea. Prior laboratory research at IGFS had shown promising results using native Irish and UK seaweeds.
In 2022, it was reported that a scientific article from researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology showed that process water from food production could serve as a good fertilizer in seaweed cultivation. The seaweed grew over sixty per cent faster, and the protein content increased nearly four times with the addition of process water. Thus, it was shown that process water from the food industry was an excellent fertilizer in land-based seaweed cultivation. This way, process water could become a resource (rather than cost) in the food industry. Such developments are likely to stimulate the global commercial seaweed market.
In 2020, World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US), with support from The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, announced an $850,000 investment in Ocean Rainforest, to expedite growth of offshore seaweed production for the benefit of people, communities, and climate gains.
In 2022, Zeewaar, the first Dutch organically certified seaweed farm, was bought by The Seaweed Company. The Seaweed Company specialized in the development of high-quality, high value seaweed products and produced seaweed in Ireland, Morocco, India and the Netherlands. Zeewaar produced seaweed in Jacobahaven, Kamperland. In the last ten years, it had established the market for seaweed products in the Netherlands by team up with brands such as ProLaTerre (part of SoFine Foods), Hema, and The Dutch Weedburger (part of Livekindly Collective). Partnerships were established with many sustainable European seaweed companies to fulfil increasing demand for seaweed.
In 2021, Seaweed Solutions AS, announced a collaboration with the global materials science company W. L. Gore & Associates Inc. Through the collaboration, Gore would provide advanced materials engineering and analytical capabilities to complement Seaweed Solutions’ first-hand experience cultivating different types of seaweed for a variety of applications. The organizations would work together to address key issues and enable increased efficiency and scalability of seaweed farming.
In 2017, The U.S. Department of Energy announced $22 million in funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for eighteen innovative projects as part of the Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program. MARINER projects would develop tools to enable the USA to become a leading producer of macroalgae, or seaweed, assisting to improve U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness.
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Market Analysis by Type, Form, Application and Region:
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