Bixler, H.J. & Porse, H., 2011
Bixler, H.J. & Porse, H. (2011). A decade of change in the seaweed hydrocolloids industry. Journal of Applied Phycology 23: 321-335.
DOI 10.1007/s10811-010-9529-3. Published on-line on 22 May 2010.
Seaweed hydrocolloid markets continue to grow, but instead of the 35% achieved in the 1980s and 1990s, the growth rate has fallen to 13% per year. This growth has been largely driven by emerging markets in China, Eastern Europe, Brazil, etc. Sales of agar, alginates and carrageenans in the US and Europe are holding up reasonably well in spite of the recession. However, price increases to offset costs in 2008 and 2009 have begun to have a dampening effect on sales, especially in markets where substitution or extension with less expensive ingredients is possible. These higher prices have been driven by higher energy, chemicals and seaweed costs. The higher seaweed costs reflect seaweed shortages, particularly for carrageenan-bearing seaweeds. The Philippines and Indonesia are the dominant producers of the farmed Kappaphycus and Eucheuma species upon which the carrageenan industry depends and both countries are experiencing factors limiting seaweed production. Similar tightening of seaweed supplies are beginning to show up in brown seaweeds used for extracting alginates, and in the red seaweeds for extracting agar. The structure of the industry is also undergoing change. Producers in China are getting stronger, and while they have not yet developed the marketing skills to compete effectively in the developed world markets, they have captured much of their home market. China does not produce the red and brown seaweeds needed for higher end food hydrocolloid production. Stocking their factories with raw material has led to the supply problems. Sales growth continues to suffer from few new product development successes in recent years; although some health care applications are showing some promise, i.e., carrageenan gel capsules and alginate micro-beads.
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