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High demand for seaweeds

Republika

AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca

At home whenever it’s mealtime the first thing I ask our kitchen is whether we still have carrageenan or seaweed. It has become a habit for me to ask whether we still have these in the refrigerator. I usually mix them with the viand, whatever it is, and the result is good.


India and Japan are two Asian countries which are carrageenan lovers. India together with the Philippines has expressed interest in a joint venture on fisheries especially because we have a very long shoreline.


Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) president Danilo Fausto said the idea came from Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu S. Kumaran during the India-Philippines Virtual Business Conference on Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture (IPBC-MFA).


“There is huge demand for seaweed hydrocolloids in India, but currently 50-90 percent is met through imports,” Shanmughan said.


The growing bilateral relation in marine fisheries and aquaculture is brought about by the eagerness of private companies from both countries to invest in each other’s sectors.


There is a growing feeling of cooperation in marine fisheries and aquaculture between the two countries and this is brought about by the eagerness of private companies from countries to invest in each other’s sectors.


The present world market is $12 billion or 32 million metric tons which is currently dominated by China and Indonesia. They own a combined 80 percent of the market.


According to Fausto, the Philippines and India have a high chance to share the market of seaweed.


The Philippines has much to offer, he said, with its vast resources of of swamplands, freshwater fishponds and brackish water fishponds.


“The Philippines sits at the heart of the coral triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. The Verde Island Passage boasts the highest concentration of marine species with its reefs as home to nearly 60 percent of the world’s known fishes and 300 species of corals,” the PCAFI chief said.


The general manager for research and development at India’s AquAgri Processing Private Limited and vice president for Aqua Agro Processing Manamaduria (in Tamil Nadu, India) Dr. Munisamy Shanmugham said the time is prime to invest in aquaculture, including seaweeds.


“There is huge demand for seaweed hydrocolloids in India, but currently 50-90 percent is met through imports,” Shanmughan said.


Carrageenan acts as an emulsifier, thickener, additive, and preservative in food and consumer products. It is an input in manufacturing dairy, gelatin, and meat products and other high-value consumer products such as toothpaste and gels.


The Philippines has put up its processing facilities ahead of other countries and its seaweeds and carrageenan exports equal to around $200 million to $250 million yearly. It has strength in technology and know-how in carrageenan manufacturing.


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