- A Mintel report found seaweed-flavored food and drinks might become the next superfood. Product launches featuring the ingredient increased in North America by 76% between 2011 and 2015; and 147% percent in Europe in that same time period, according to Food Business News.
- "Due to its abundance in natural vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein, seaweed speaks to the growing quest for naturally functional foods and alternative protein sources in the West," said Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst, Mintel, in a statement. Seaweed flavors include kombu, nori, and wakame.
- Innovations in the seaweed snack category were featured at Natural Products Expo West earlier this month. In the second quarter, Ocean's Halo, based in San Francisco, will open the country’s first seaweed manufacturing plant. The plant will also supply private label brands.
North America launched only 4% of products featuring seaweed as a flavor or ingredient between 2011 and 2015; however, the product’s "health halo" creates opportunities in the West, according to Mintel. The organization found close to half of U.S. consumers have tried or would try algae as a protein source. What’s more, 60% of U.S. "snackers" want more healthy options.
Most Americans are familiar with seaweed used in sushi. Other seaweed applications have been limited, though companies such as SeaSnax and Annie Chun's are now offering seaweed snacks, and Ocean's Halo offers seaweed chips.
Ground seaweed is a natural substitute for salt, and has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, which do well in the healthy snack category. However, Mintel’s research cautions these products should perform on flavor if they are going to do well in the West, Mattucci said.