In a previous article, seaweed researcher Dr. Craig Rose discussed what role seaweeds will play in the algae industry. In this article, Dr. Rose discusses the Seaweed Health Foundation, an organization that he currently serves as Executive Director, and the UK’s role in the algae industry.
1) You are currently head of the Seaweed Health Foundation. What are this organisation’s goals and are there any projects they are currently working on?
The Seaweed Health Foundation was founded in 2010 by Seagreens, the UK’s leading seaweed supplier , and is run as an independent not-for-profit organisation to facilitate applied research and increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of human food quality seaweed for food, health and body care.
We have a membership which spans the entire supply chain, incorporating harvesters, processors, nutritionists, distributors, food manufacturers and retailers, as well as academic research partners.
We are leading the market with commercially focussed research to validate to industry the benefits of seaweed in response to market place concerns and regulation through:
• Salt reduction
• Standard development for human food quality seaweed
Our research, with our academic partners, uses human food quality seaweed and has shown various products to be acceptable to consumers, and providing shelf-life extending properties and satiety (feeling of fullness) enhancing potential when incorporated into food products.
We are also driving the market by raising consumer awareness and acceptance of seaweed as foods and food ingredients. Furthermore, we are setting the standards that will ensure human food quality seaweed and sustainability of supply, in order to give confidence to industry as they start to utilise seaweeds in increasing volumes.
We work with our members and other organisations to develop innovation, and promote and deliver education and training services on the use of seaweeds, market insight, and new product development.
Whilst a traditional food for many, seaweeds are being recognised as a food of the future.
2) You just launched a new website for the Seaweed Health Foundation. Could you tell us a little about it?
The Seaweed Health Foundation has recently launched their website. The site is to provide information on our core aim – to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of human food quality seaweed for food, health and body care – and as a portal for our members to access our market leading independent research and information. The services provided by the site will be developed further over the coming months for both members, and non-members interested in becoming involved in the seaweed health industries.
Currently there is information on what the Foundation does, addressing the key market trends of health and wellness, sustainability, and innovation and research. Industry news and events will be highlighted, and we welcome comments from our Members and potential Members on what they would like to see further from us.
3) What role do you see the UK playing in the algae industry?
As an island nation, with immense academic and commercial expertise, the UK has a key role to play in the algae industries.
Numerous universities and research institutes across the UK are involved in projects involving seaweeds and microalgae, and for a range of applications. The UK’s strength in various disciplines from marine science and technology to food technology and innovation is ensuring world-class projects are being undertaken. These are often funded through commercially focussed research streams and private investment to ensure that there is a commercial focus, which is key to the success of the industry.
Furthermore, the UK has some ideal areas of coastline for seaweed cultivation and harvest, and a strong history of maritime industries.
Overall, the UK is providing the entire algae supply chain from cultivation and harvest to the expertise in processing technologies that add value and drive market innovation.
4) Seaweed was recently mentioned in the Research Council UK “Big Ideas for the Future” report. Could you give a brief rundown of what the article is about?
The Research Council UK is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils, and so we were delighted when their report on “Big Ideas for the Future” highlights “seaweed instead of salt” (see page 58) as one of these big ideas.
The report comes from research undertaken by the Seaweed Health Foundation on behalf of its member, and founder, Seagreens® Ltd, and which was undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Food Innovation. The research involves the use of dried, milled, human food quality seaweed in replacement of salt within a range of staple foods. Results to date have been extremely encouraging, and there are numerous examples of significant commercial uptake within our Membership and beyond.
In addition to the huge potential as a means to reduce salt (sodium) in foods, Seagreens® seaweed is also offering potential improvements in satiety (feeling of fullness) and improved nutrition.
The recognition by Research Councils UK of seaweed as a big idea for the future, gives real credence to our work.
Dr Craig Rose
The Seaweed Health Foundation