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  • Writer's pictureGabriella D'Cruz

A case for diversity

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Image credit: Rebecca D'Costa

Ways India can create a diversity of markets, while sustainably growing its seaweed industry

The global seaweed industry originated in the East and South East of Asia and is currently expanding to other countries. According to the latest World Bank report on New and Emerging Markets 2023, the world's top producers of seaweed are China and Indonesia followed by South Korea and the Philippines. Asia collectively supplies close to 98% of the world's seaweed markets with the rest of the world currently producing only 2% of seaweed.

India is one of the smallest producers in Asia with only 0.02% of global production capacity. Initiatives by the Indian Government have accelerated interest in the sector resulting in a number of new seaweed businesses entering the market. The dominant players in India’s industry remain companies such as AquaAgri, Sea6 Energy, Himedia Labs and ZeroCircle with new companies getting into the sector supplying a range of markets from biostimulants, biofertilizers, hydrocolloids, pharmaceutical applications, food, feed and bioplastics.

India’s current markets source wild and cultivated seaweed from roughly INR 40 per dry kg ( sargassum sp.) to110 per dry kg ( kappaphycus sp.) from states such as Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and process it according to industry requirements. Most seaweed in India is used in high extraction, low value markets. There is a benefit to creating high value seaweed supply chains for Indian seaweed which could offer coastal communities higher incomes.

If India is to start supplying quality seaweed to these markets such as food, pharma and beauty, there will have to be more of a focus on provenance, harvesting guidelines, seawater quality as well as adherence to guidelines for cleaning and drying the seaweed. Countries that have a robust seaweed industry and diversified markets are also in the practice of knowledge sharing between industry bodies, research organisations, and producers, resulting in more innovation and industry applicable research. Generating more value from local seaweed should also evolve in tandem with policies that safeguard wild seaweed stocks and create long term, stable incomes for coastal communities.


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