French Seaweed develops new market share abroad

05-07-2016
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Edible seaweed is thought to be next big thing to introduce into our diets and is attracting an ever-expanding audience. 

France, driven notably by Globe Export, is a leading proponent of market growth.

Production of seaweed around the world has reached an annual total of 14 million tonnes, predominantly for human consumption (75%). According to the CEVA (International Research Centre for Seaweed), the annual production in France has reached 90,000 tonnes, and 75% of French seaweed is used by the food and chemical industries, the latter primarily for cosmetics. For several years now, macroalgae, which are the larger varieties of seaweed, have been harvested and consumed in France, and even exported internationally.

Edible seaweed is usually grouped according to colour, with green, brown and red species commercialised. The most commonly found varieties in retail are sea lettuce, aonori, dulse, iris moss or carrageen moss (from which carageenans are extracted and mainly used in the food industry), sea spaghetti or thong weed, nori (for sushi), wakame, hijike, wreck and kelp.

Health and safety requirements impose stringent regulations regarding pollutants and heavy metal content before commercialisation. Within the EU, only France and Belgium impose health and safety regulations for seaweed prior to human consumption.

Source: Globe Export

Globe Export, Breton seaweed is a passport to export success

What generally appeals to foreign customers is the company’s product range and French quality. “Brittany is an exceptional source of marine life and the envy of even our Asian counterparts.  The “Made in France” distinction is a strong feature we promote when we export, “ continues Antoine Ravenel.

As testament to its quality, the seaweed is hand-harvested by local seaweed collectors on the Brittany coast. It is washed and processed in situ to make “tartares” (spreads), salads and fresh salted and even dried seaweed.  “It is 100% natural and we retain practically all the nutritional value contained in the product. In addition, our seaweed does not contain any traces of heavy metals, while the same cannot be said for other markets. Indeed, French and European law governing foods means that our seaweed is much more regulated, which is a major selling point in export markets.”

 

Another major advantage of Globe Export is innovation. Since 2008, the company has converted to molecular cuisine to process its seaweed and offer a new range of products. “We try to adapt our products to the tastes of the uninitiated,” explains Antoine Ravenel. The company sells three types of product: raw seaweed sold to the restaurant sector or to seaweed “aficionados”, and secondly, partially-processed foods where the taste of seaweed is still strong, but the product is cooked, such as a range of spreads including lemon and shallot seaweed tartare, or gherkin and seaweed tartare. Finally, a third category where the cooking process is much more elaborate. “It’s all about creating a platform for the product, which is certainly the case for “Tartares du Monde” our range of spreads, where the cooking element is much more important.  These are essentially highly original products”.  Think “Tartare New Delhi”: a delicious spread made with Madras curry, raisins and sea spaghetti.  These are all creative food innovations that will boost brand awareness, notably at prestigious international trade fairs like the SIAL.  With double-digit growth for the last 3 years, and an insatiable desire to adapt to consumer needs, Globe Export will continue to add value to this relatively youthful segment in foreign markets.