Seaweed is steadily becoming a key player in global food production with both research and development of new seaweed increasing by 16.8% and 11% per year respectively. Most of this research and development of new products is focused on the food industry with 37.7% and 21% per year respectively of the total research and product patents. This incredible growth of the seaweed market has been on an upward trend since the 1990s, a relatively new market still, but it has no hints of slowing down. Growing demands to supply food for increasing populations, pressing concerns over climate change and the development of new technologies has fostered a momentum and huge potential market in the form of seaweed.
And the upward trend of seaweed has more than convincing reasons: Seaweed does not need fertilizing, no weeding, no watering, and it has very few opponents in the form of pests or disease. It gets all it needs from the ocean environment around it and, under optimal conditions, can grow almost six inches a day. And it actually leaves the environment better than it finds it, so having a seaweed farm close by is an obvious benefit: Seaweed restores balance for a thriving ocean by increasing the pH of the surrounding environment to tackle ocean acidification, it requires minimal resources, it is the most promising solution for decarbonization and sequestering carbon from the surface of the ocean and on top of that, has enormous potential to create millions of jobs and improve the livelihood of coastal communities.
The total production of seaweed is similarly rising each year incredibly fast with major players like Malaysia continuing to heavily invest into the seaweed market, being one of the largest producers especially within the focus of sustainability. Malaysia is one of the front runners of seaweed production with up to 375 taxa of seaweed being present within Malaysia, providing many opportunities for new markets and uses for seaweeds from industrial uses to the food industry and even as far as cosmetics and therapeutic industries.
With more than 10,000 species of seaweed in the world, the big question is, which species should be farmed where? The number one rule here according to acclaimed researchers is to always grow a species native to the water you are farming it in. And that’s exactly what SEADLING is doing. We are investing in R&D to locate native seaweed species in Sabah, Malaysia as well as creating a proven process and technology to make seaweed farming more efficient, transparent and sustainable in order to gain maximum benefits for the ocean, local farming communities and people.
Xiao, X., Agusti, S., Lin, F. et al. Nutrient removal from Chinese coastal waters by large-scale seaweed aquaculture. Sci Rep 7, 46613(2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep46613
Mazarrasa, I., Olsen, Y. S., Mayol, E., Marbà, N. & Duarte, C. M.Global unbalance in seaweed production, research effort and biotechnology markets. Biotechnol. Adv. 32, 1028–1036 (2014) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.05.002.
S. M. Phang; Seaweed resources in Malaysia: Current status and future prospects. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management 1 July2006; 9 (2): 185–202. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14634980600710576