CEBU

Food, beauty products drive up demand

Livelihood. A woman and her son prepare seaweed cuttings for planting in the seawaters off Gilutungan Island, Cordova. Some 300 seaweed farmers in the Philippines depend on carrageenan for their livelihood. (SunStar File)

HOMEGROWN seaweed processor Shemberg Marketing Corp. sees a strong demand in carrageenan in Asia, driven by the rise in food and beauty industries.

“There’s a spike of semi-refined carrageenan orders from Asia including the Philippines as demand for seaweed-based food additive and beauty ingredients rise,” said Mary Ann Rose Dakay, vice president for operations of Shemberg Marketing Corp.

Dakay said that although major markets like the United States and Europe have shown stable growth, Asia’s expanding middle class and healthy economic conditions provide opportunities for the seaweed industry to flourish.

Carrageenan is a gelatinous substance used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that is derived from seaweed. It is commonly used as a thickener and stabilizer in infant formula, dairy products, non-dairy “milk” analogs, meats and drink mixes.

Dakay, who will also run as the next president of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (Siap) late this year, pledged to work closely with industry players to elevate the plight of the seaweed farmers and prepare the sector for the growing demand.

Siap chairman Maximo Ricohermoso said that the industry is now looking at the beauty and cosmetics sectors as the next “big thing” for the seaweed sector.

New applications are also underway in nutraceuticals, health care, cosmetics and many other industries, the Siap official noted.

“Carrageenan demand for these new applications is much greater than current usages,” said Ricohermoso, adding that there are also quite a number of countries being eyed as export targets such as South America, Middle East, Africa and West Asia.

The seaweed industry also plans to penetrate markets that the Philippines has strong economic relationships with such as Russia, China, and Japan.

About 300 seaweed Filipino farmers rely on this sector. (KOC)


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