Demand for carrageenan on the rise in Asian market
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - April 16, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Aside from the growing demand for carrageenan product in United States and Europe, seaweed processor Shemberg Marketing Corporation likewise sees a strong demand in Asia, including the Philippines.

Shemberg Marketing Corporation vice president for operations Mary Anne Rose T. Dakay said local demand for seaweed-based food additive and beauty ingredients pushed the demand for semi-refined carrageenan orders from Asia and in the Philippines.

Restaurants, bakeshops, meat processors, and even the beauty product makers are now using seaweed-based additive to their products, instead of other ingredients they used in the past.

Shemberg, one of the largest seaweed processors in the Philippines, is also strengthening its efforts to capture the high market potential in Asia, at the same time encouraging more fishersfolk to plant more seaweed in order to meet the heightened demand.

Carrageenan, a processed seaweed, is known to have a valuable commercial ingredient because of its advantageous properties. When used as an ingredient in beverages, carrageenan preserves texture, structure and stability, enabling the export of countless shelf-stable beverage products. It is particularly suitable for shelf-stable dairy beverages and protein-enriched drinks.

Specifically, carrageenan has continued to be used in dairy-based and enriched beverages, mainly in chocolate milk and chocolate milk applications such as syrups and powdered mix.

Earlier, Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP) chairman Maximo A. Ricohermoso said that the industry is now looking at the beauty and cosmetics sectors as the next "big thing" for the seaweed industry.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary Ramon Lopez likewise urged seaweed processors and exporters to explore another market other than United States, as well as other seaweed or carrageenan applications.

Seaweed, like most oceanic materials, is believed to naturally absorb nourishment from the sea and therefore contains a considerably high content of minerals, trace minerals such as iodine, calcium, potassium, iron, amino acids and vitamins. This makes it an extremely attractive and marketable natural ingredient for beauty companies.

Seaweed is frequently harvested by hand and then processed into an extract so that it can be incorporated into beauty products. Whether much or all of the valuable nutrients found in seaweed are lost during the extraction process is uncertain. Beauty companies are nevertheless keen to tout the supposed benefits of seaweed in their products – which include collagen enhancing, rejuvenating, skin firming, antioxidant and hydrating.

The seaweed industry in the Philippines, which primarily provides the food-grade specie of seaweed grown in the Philippine shores, is providing livelihood to over 100 thousand families across the country.

Dakay, the youngest daughter of the late "Carrageenan King" Benson U. Dakay, who also plans to run as SIAP president towards the end of this year, said the industry holds a promising future especially with the recent decision of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to retain carrageenan to the list of allowed substances for organic products in the United States. (FREEMAN)

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