Why seaweed sales are growing in Europe, U.S.

Writer:Christine BlankSource:www.seafoodsource.co Date:4/15/2016
 More Europeans and Americans are looking at seaweed with hungry eyes, and  the seafood industry is seeking to capitalize with the introduction of a range of  new and innovative products. 
 
 London-based Clearspring, which has been selling sea vegetable products for  more than 20 years, has realized a surge in sales in the past 18 months, thanks  to growing awareness of its products in the U.K. and Europe.
 
 Products such as Clearspring’s sushi nori and Japanese kombu are more  popular “as awareness of their nutritional characteristics have become more  well-known and as they are being featured more in the media and in recipes,”  said Maria Dawson, Clearspring sales and marketing director for the United  Kingdom.
 
 Clearspring is not alone. Europe’s seaweed-flavored food and drink product  launches increased by 147 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to  previous SeafoodSource reporting. 
 
This growth means the bloc is now the second most-innovative region globally when it comes to seaweed-flavored food and drink launches.
 
Plus, seaweed-flavored food and drink introductions soared by 76 percent in North America between 2011 and 2015, according to consumer research firm Mintel. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of U.S. consumers have either tried or would like to try algae as a protein source, similar to consumers in Germany (58 percent) and the U.K. (44 percent).
Seaweed products have also become more diverse. For example, Amsterdam-based Seamore has seen good sales in Europe with its “I sea pasta” seaweed tagliatelle. There is now a crowdfunding effort underway to bring the seaweed pasta to Australia.
 
Plus, more Europeans and Americans are looking to seaweed snacks as substitutions for other snacks like potato chips. Last year, Clearspring introduced “Seaveg Crispies,” which are thin toasted nori squares.
 
“[They’re] eaten as a healthy, low-calorie, high-fiber snack,” Dawson said. “They have already become one of Clearspring’s best sellers.”
 
And the market is ripe for healthier snacks. Three in 10 US snacking consumers (30 percent) agree they snacked on healthier foods more in 2015, compared to the year before, according to Mintel. Plus, 60 percent of U.S. snacking consumers wish there were more healthy snack options.
 
“While still somewhat niche in North America and Europe, we believe that seaweed could become the next superfood,” said Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst at Mintel. “Due to its abundance of natural vitamins, minerals and plant-based protein, seaweed speaks to the growing quest for naturally functional foods and alternative protein sources in the West.”
 
In addition to sea vegetables’ health benefits, Dawson believes the category will continue to grow because of its environmental benefits.
 
“Seaweed, which requires neither fresh water nor fertilizer, is one of the world’s most sustainable and nutritious crops. It absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dioxide directly from the sea—its footprint is negative—and proliferates at a terrific rate. These characteristics will be increasing in importance as we struggle to feed the world.”

TypeInfo: Industry News

Keywords for the information:seaweed sales  Europe  healthy food  sustainable and nutritious