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  • Writer's pictureThe Good Ocean

Seaweed on plates

Our founder, Gabriella D’Cruz who is a marine conservationist with a Masters in Biodiversity Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford gave a presentation at the 5th International Indian Seaweed Expo and Summit on Seaweed as food. Her presentation titled “ Seaweed on plates : High value food markets” focussed on the potential of Indian seaweed to be used as food sources. 

Seaweeds and Microalgae: An Overview for Unlocking Their Potential in Global Aquaculture Development. 2021. FAO.

Her presentation began with an overview of the global seaweed market of which 63% ($9.2 billion USD) was from the food sector (FAO 2021). Then talking about the Indian seaweed market, she stated that there is room to diversify in addition to the dominant markets of biostimulants and hydrocolloids into higher value markets such as food, beauty and nutraceuticals. 

The presentation then went on to describe ways in which seaweed could be included in food in India, ranging from use as a seasoning or condiment such as a salt or a podi, as a secondary component such as a seaweed salad, sauce or soup and as a primary component such as seaweed burgers or seaweed pakoras. There is also great value in seaweed snacks as they are vegetarian, low in carbohydrates and fats and high in nutrition. 

Her presentation then went on to talk about what high value food markets require and how we need to fill these gaps. The five values discussed were:

  1. Flavour, diversity and nutrition 

  2. Food safety

  3. Sustainability 

  4. Traceability 

  5. Communication 

And finally she concluded by discussing the challenges of the sector which were the following:

  1. Sustainable and consistent supply of biomass 

  2. Crustacean allergies and removal of crustaceans from seaweed 

  3. Cold chain for fresh seaweed transportation 

  4. “Fishy” taste and smell of seaweed 

It was interesting to note that after Gabriella’s presentation on the challenges, Dr Arup Ghosh from CSIR-CSMCRI gave the audience samples of Monostroma species of seaweed that had been treated to remove the “fishy” smell. This was an example of how the conference was effective in bringing together multiple actors in the seaweed ecosystem in India with valuable outcomes. 

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