Univar Solutions' European subsidiary will distribute the PureSea range of seaweed ingredient products produced by Seaweed & Co. throughout select countries in Europe.
Announcing the deal, the company said the product range brings various flavour and health benefits to a ‘wide range’ of food and beverage applications.
“Seaweed has a unique mix of health, nutrition, flavour and sustainability. The nutrient dense PureSea range offers manufacturers many benefits, providing opportunities to build concepts that fit with the latest trends,” regional marketing manager Samuel Russell said.
“The use of seaweed in food is gaining huge momentum with new food product launches containing seaweed on the rise every year since 2014, whilst PureSea has been used in products featured in every major UK retailer as well as by multinationals.”
Gary Abraham, head of supplier management Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), added that the addition of PureSea allows Univar to meet ‘emerging demand’ for seaweed products. “This presents tremendous opportunity to drive new growth through organic, natural and sustainably sourced products,” he noted.
On trend seaweed poised for growth
UK-based Seaweed & Co. offers a range of seaweed ingredients, including: PureSea Natural organic Hebridean Ascophyllum seaweed, used for salt replacement, ‘flavour boosting’ and nutritional enhancement; PureSea Smoked, which is suited to savoury applications; and PureSea Protect, which delivers ‘enhanced nutrition’ with the protection of key nutrients during digestion and no flavour impact on finished products, making it suitable for beverages.
Russell noted that the seaweed ingredients produced by Seaweed & Co. tap into a number of significant market trends.
Data from Mintel shows product launches containing seaweed and algae have doubled between 2015 and 2017, accounting for 1.4% of total new products launched in Europe.
“The nutrient dense PureSea range offers manufacturers many benefits, providing opportunities to build concepts that fit with the latest trends,” he said.
“It’s sustainably sourced from the Scottish Outer Hebrides with a fully traceable supply chain and, with seaweed as the only natural vegan source of the essential nutrient iodine, it permits six EU approved health claims. Research has demonstrated that PureSea can also aid both weight and blood sugar management. Furthermore, as a natural shelf life enhancer with natural levels of glutamate providing umami flavour-boosting properties, PureSea can be used to boost manufacturers’ efforts to reduce sodium levels without any compromise to quality.”
Significantly, Russell continued, products containing seaweed are gaining traction, generating significant coverage in the consumer press and securing the backing of high-profile advocates.
“Many cultures around the world have at some point in history eaten and benefited from seaweed, and now the benefits are again being noticed with seaweed being featured on UK television shows such as ‘Trust me I’m a doctor’, ‘Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast’ and BBC’s ‘The Customer Is Always Right’.
“The range has taken the particular interest of Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson who is a keen advocate of the brand and actually used the products for ‘Smoked Seaweed Scones’ as part of his participation on ‘Great British Bake Off’,” Russell added.
Accessing a ‘far wider market’
Russell said the strategic partnership between Seaweed & Co. and Univar Solutions will allow the seaweed processor to access ‘a far wider market’.
“Our PureSea range of seaweed ingredient products will benefit from Univar Solutions expertise, broad network and state-of-the-art Technical Solutions Centres,” added Dr. Craig Rose, founder and managing director, Seaweed & Co. “We look forward to further growing our business with one of the leading ingredient distributors in the world.”
Russell told FoodNavigator that the ingredient range will initially be available in northern Europe, with further market expansion down the line. "Initially, we are focusing on the UK, France, Sweden, Denmark and Finland with other markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa set to follow."