How is the market ?
By 2024, the commercial seaweed market is forecasted to reach $22.13 billion globally, according to Grand View Research. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% from 2016.
Demand for seaweed grows as it is used increasingly for industrial applications and for food. It also is used in cosmetics, skin-care products and toothpaste.
In 2015, red seaweed was 52.5% of the market and is expected to continue to grow.
Human consumption was 81% and more than half of all seaweed was consumed in liquid form. The food market is forecasted to grow 9% by 2024.
Globally, the largest market is Asia Pacific with a 80% market share.
China produces more than half of the world's seaweed supply followed by Indonesia, South Korea, and the Philippines. Outside of Asia, Nova Scotia, Canada, has a multimillion dollar seaweed industry.
The increase in production, however, concerns the United Nations University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
A joint report by the agencies calls for stricter regulations to keep seaweed sustainable.
Seaweed aquaculture was meant to decrease reliance on fisheries. The agencies are concerned increased demand over the past decade will have an environmental impact.
Concerns include the introduction of nonindigenous species, an increase in disease and farms' vulnerable to natural disasters. The illegal use of pesticides also is a concern.
In addition to advocating for regulations, the agencies also believe there needs to be more genetic diversity in seaweed.
"Future challenges include: technical improvements in increasing the genetic diversity of cultivars, breeding new disease-resistant strains and establishing disease-free 'seed-banks' or nurseries to assist with the restocking of sites where the crop has been lost to disease," the report said.
The agencies consulted 21 institutions for the report.
The European Commission has adopted legislation protecting aquaculture, the report said.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK has proposed a plan to establish a network of seaweed farms.
Seaweed is common off the coast of the UK.
Celebrity chefs have embraced seaweed as a superfood, and it is being marketed for flavoring and as a salt alternative.
Since 2000, seaweed production jumped from 10.5 million to 28.4 million tons globally each year, according to The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
Seaweed also can be used a biofuel, the centre says.
Key Statistics – Global Commercial Seaweed Market
- From 2016 to 2021, commercial seaweeds are forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 9.17% and reach $17.59 billion in value. (source: MarketsandMarkets)
- From 2015 to 2020, the global algae ingredient market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 7.6%. (source: Mordor Intelligence)
- During the period 2016-2020, the global aquaculture market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 3.75%. (source: TechNavio
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