The commercial seaweeds market is expected to observe notable growth due to the functional characteristics of edible and nutritious seaweeds. These seaweeds are increasingly used as a thickening, binding, and gelling agents in the various application industries such as textile, food, cosmetics, and manufacturing. Furthermore, to reduce the usage of plastic for packaging, plastic is being used widely, which is hampering the environment. Owing to this, the plastic manufacturing enterprises have started to produce eco-friendly plastics using processed seaweeds. For instance, in March 2019, a Loliware, a manufacturer of plastic using seaweed technology, announced to introduce an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws. Additionally, the company is soon going to launch hyper-compostable seaweed straws. These straws are made of 100% food-grade materials along with non-GMO, gluten-free, and sugar-free marine degradable straws that are easily degradable. Hyper-compostable straws are more cost-efficient, have a shelf-life of 24 months, and can break-down at the same rate as food waste. Similar to Loliware, a number of innovative companies are making it their objective to replace plastic straws with eco-friendly straws globally completely. These innovations are catering to the expansion of the plastic industry.

The global commercial seaweeds market size is evaluated to be $13 billion as of the end of 2018. The demand for the seaweed products is creating new opportunities poised to increment at a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period 2019-2025.

Algae-Based Alternative to Single-Use Plastic Packaging

The planet is drowning with continuous usage of plastic. According to the United Nations Environment report, more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic are produced to date, which is approximately 300 million tonnes of waste produced every year. Most of the plastics used for packaging are produced from chemicals that are derived from natural gas, coal, and oil. To reduce the usage of plastic, the companies are working towards producing eco-friendly and algae-based plastics. In January 2019, Margarita Talep developed a biodegradable and sustainable alternative to single-use packaging produced using the raw materials that are extracted from algae. These plastics are made with natural materials such as agar with water and naturally extracted dyes from skins of fruits and vegetables. This innovation has influenced various enterprises to produce algae-based plastic in the coming years. Algae-based plastics are being used for single-use packaging, which is augmenting the growth of the commercial seaweed market. Additionally, these plastics are replacing the oil-based plastics completely, creating tremendous potential for investment in the packaging industry.

Liquid Form Segment of Seaweed Anticipated to Grow at Highest CAGR

The liquid form segment of the commercial seaweed market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% during the forecast period 2019-2025. This liquid segment is used in a wide range of end-use applications such as cosmetics, food, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture. Liquid seaweeds are increasingly used as fertilizers for organic farming in the agriculture sector. As of 2016, organic farmland increased to 7.5 million hectares, which is an increase of 15% from the previous year. Along with this, the number of organic producers rose to at least 2.7 million in 2016, according to the Organic Eprints Organization. With a rise in organic farming all across the globe, the farmers are inclining towards using the liquid extracted from marine algae. Owing to this, there is a decrease in the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, and the demand for liquid bio-fertilizer is increasing for organic farming. Nowadays, for improving soil quality and achieving higher crop production, seaweed fertilizers are gaining popularity for all types of crops, trees, and grasses. Furthermore, over the recent year, the growing developments in the pharmaceutical industry have discovered the use of actinobacteria. This bacteria is found in liquid seaweed that has the potential to provide future medicines for diseases such as malaria, cancer, inflammatory conditions, and various types of infections. The mentioned developments in the use of liquid extracted from marine algae such as Rhodophyta, Chlorophyta, and Phaeophyceae are augmenting the growth of the commercial seaweed market.

APAC Dominated Global Market Revenue with 34% Share in 2018

APAC estimated to account the largest share in the global commercial seaweeds market. This is primarily attributed to the domestic consumption and large-scale production of edible seaweeds in APAC, fueling up the processed food industry. China, Japan, South Korea, and India are the significant countries accounting for a massive share in the increasing need for commercial seaweed. APAC poses huge demand for alginates or carrageenan in the different Asian cuisines. Seaweed is considered as the new kale and the superfood in the APAC food industry. These seaweeds are rich in minerals, are a good source of high-quality protein, and contains essential amino acids. The consumers now recognize the health benefits of these seaweeds, such as they are low-calorie foods and reduces blood pressure. Furthermore, the use of seaweed as fertilizers is increasing in APAC. Owing to this, the companies are moving towards innovation using seaweed extracts. In 2017, Biostadt India Private Limited, chemical manufacturing company, developed a new innovative product, Hy-Zyme Liquid. This was manufactured using the dried granulated seaweed powder coupled with other biological inputs. These biological inputs undergo specialized Lactobacilli process to produce Hy-Zyme Liquid. The product is used in a wide range of crops for vigorous development and to produce better quality. Similar innovations by the companies in the region are boosting the commercial seaweeds market growth.

Government Spending on Extracting Biofuel from Seaweed

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy invested approximately $1.5 million in developing renewable energy from Hawaiian seaweed. This investment is supporting two large-scale offshore seaweed farms for producing and developing biofuels from seaweed extracts. Out of $1.5 million, $995,978 is given to Honolulu’s Makai Ocean Engineering to develop ocean simulating model and remaining $500,000 to Kailua-Kona’s Kampachi Farms to operate offshore macroalgae farm and to test various harvesting methods. Similar investments are being made globally to extract biofuels from the seaweeds by Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and Scientific Research Center of the Mexican state of Yucatan. This progress in the commercial seaweed market is expected to propel the demand for products made of seaweed worldwide in the coming years.

The Major Players Leading in Commercial Seaweed Market

Some of the key companies in the global commercial seaweed market are E.I. DuPont Nemours and Company, Biostadt India Ltd, Compo GmbH & Co, Cargill Incorporated, and Roullier Group. These pioneering companies are utilizing extensive resources on developmental and innovational activities to deliver essential products and solutions to global customers, deliberately strengthening their brand image and setting new trends for the global market.

·    Riken Acquired by Dalian Kowa Foods

In April 2016, a Japanese food company, Riken, was acquired by Dalian Kowa Foods, a leading Chinese seaweed producer company. Dalian Kowa Foods with this acquisition is expanding its business intending to introduce salads and meals that have value-added seaweed. The company intends to maximize the nutrient contents of seaweeds and to set up a new manufacturing facility to produce processed foods using seaweeds. With this progress by the company, it is expected to have a positive growth impact on the commercial seaweed market.

·   Cargill Designs Red Seaweed Promise Program for Sustainability

In February 2019, Cargill Incorporated, an American FMCG company, launched a sustainable program, Red Seaweed Promise. This program will ensure a long-term sustainable program for the red seaweed supply chain. It will also address the key sustainable challenges related to cultivation and harvesting of red seaweeds along with supporting local communities, enhancing producer livelihood, and conserving the marine environment.  

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