THE Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (Siap) is targeting a world market share of 15 percent in raw dried seaweed in 2012, according to the sectoral export marketing plan (Semp) submitted to the Confederation of Philippine Exporters Foundation Cebu Inc. (Philexport-Cebu) last month.

To achieve this target, the group must work to increase raw material production by 10 to 15 percent annually, the same growth objective set by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

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To increase production, Siap will encourage all stakeholders, from farmers to traders and processors, to become Siap members.

At present, more seaweed farmers are needed to increase the country’s seaweed production, said Siap president Benson Dakay in a recent interview.

“We also have to expand our seaweed farms,” he added.

If not, seaweed processors in the country will be compelled to buy raw seaweeds from Vietnam or Cambodia, a costly move for them.

Dakay said the Philippines’ production had dropped from 100,000 tons yearly in mid-2000 to only 60,000 tons last year as farmers aged and production suffered the effects of climate change.

“The business now is getting difficult,” Dakay said.

Siap will also tap international funding agencies to develop the industry.

Based on the Semp, a copy of which Siap furnished Sun.Star Cebu, the sector also aims to adopt and support the enforcement of product quality standards for raw dried seaweeds (RDS) and carrageenan (processed seaweed).

The Semp is one of the tools developed by Philexport to help its member-companies cope with the changing global trends concerning export production.

Philexport outgoing president Jay Yuvallos, in an earlier interview, described the Semp as a “scientific approach” for exporters to deal with their respective markets.

Also outlined in the seaweed industry’s Semp are the industry’s market entry strategies with a focus on emerging markets for natural food ingredients in Europe and the development of non-traditional carrageenan applications, like fresh or dried food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

For the RDS, Siap identified the Filipino and foreign-owned processing companies as its main targets.

Excess supply of the product can be sold to foreign buyers, especially in existing markets.

For carrageenan, the primary targets include international food ingredient blenders and food manufacturers seen to develop in emerging European countries.

Other markets targeted are South Africa and South America.

For non-traditional applications of carrageenan, Siap targets the markets of Europe and the United States.

To start working on the Semp, Siap foresees spending more than P1.6 million this year to go, among others, toward manpower costs and the funding of its campaign to increase membership.