The Cornish Seaweed Company (CSC) has been harvesting local seaweed since 2012. Their aim is to provide consumers with an honest superfood – a sustainably harvested and local alternative food source that is healthy, nutritional, tasty and good for the environment.
Demand for seaweed is growing rapidly. Globally, 96% of seaweed production originates from cultivated sources. In contrast, 99% of seaweed production in Europe originates from wild harvest. Increasingly, the cultivation of seaweed across Europe is seen as a more stable and sustainable supply option.
Environmental, social and regulatory constraints limit the scope for large-scale seaweed farming in England’s coastal waters. The challenges associated with land-based cultivation in water tanks include high energy demand and slow growth rates.
CSC’s experience and knowledge has helped to develop a completely new, innovative, land-based cultivation system.
CSC Director, Tim van Berkel, explains: “This form of cultivation provides various possibilities for changing environmental regimes to suit the needs of the species being cultured. Potentially, this represents the first commercially viable method to grow high-demand and high-value intertidal seaweeds such as Dulse, Sea lettuce and Nori in Europe, using a modular and scalable system.”
CSC advanced their concept with research and testing support from our marine innovation experts.
Dr Carly Daniels, Business Research Fellow at University of Exeter, explains: “We worked alongside the CSC team to carry out initial pilot trials and research. These covered key development areas such as system technology and specification; costing of the system components; examining the effect of light quality and intensity on seaweed growth; piloting and testing of the system using a range of different set-ups; and highlighting ways in which the system could be refined and developed.”
“Overall, the CSC system prototype showed great potential as an alternative form of land-based cultivation and was shown to reduce some of the shortfalls of more traditional forms of land-based culture that make them costly.”
Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i – a programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund to accelerate innovation within marine tech businesses in Cornwall – says: “This is an excellent example of innovative thinking from the team at The Cornish Seaweed Company and will help to significantly increase the long-term commercial viability of this valuable food. It is great to see this pioneering work coming out of Cornwall, and the Marine-i team have been delighted to help CSC accelerate the development of their technology.”
Tim van Berkel of The Cornish Seaweed Company, said: “We are really grateful for the support from the University of Exeter’s team. The research programme they developed gave us exactly the feedback and information that we needed, and it has taken us a big step forward in our mission to introduce this new technology.”