Europeans are eating more and more seaweed. At present, almost all seaweed in Europe comes from Asia and domestic cultivation is practically non-existent. By making use of offshore wind farms in the North Sea, locally cultivated seaweed could meet 25 per cent of European demand by 2030.
This is the conclusion of research commissioned by the sector organisation North Sea Farmers.
The study, which consists of expert interviews and consumer and desk research, shows that the European seaweed market for human consumption could grow from EUR 840 million to EUR 2.8 billion in 2030. By that time, domestic seaweed production should reach a volume of eight million tonnes. In addition, seaweed absorbs CO2, which is also beneficial as a weapon against climate change.
A growing awareness among European consumers about the impact of food on their own health and on the climate drives the popularity of plant-based foods, and seaweed is a valuable application in this. Not only in dishes such as sushi, burgers and spaghetti, but also as a salt substitute, flavour enhancer, thickener and as an alternative to animal proteins.
400 km2 of seaweed farms between offshore wind farms
Marlies Draisma, manager markets & applications of North Sea Farmers: ‘For the growth and professionalisation of the European seaweed sector it is essential that we have reliable and well-founded data. We are convinced that this sustainable growth market with short production chains offers an important answer to the urgent demand for food with a positive impact on people and the environment. From 2030 onwards, the Dutch ambition is to realise 400 km2 of seaweed farms between offshore wind farms. This will save up to 1.6 million tonnes of CO2.’