Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 2187–2200 | Cite as

The seaweed hydrocolloid industry: 2016 updates, requirements, and outlook

  • Hans PorseEmail author
  • Brian Rudolph
22nd International Seaweed Symposium, Copenhagen


The seaweed hydrocolloid industry, comprising agar, alginate, and carrageenan extracts, continues to grow in the order of 2–3% per year with the Asia-Pacific region increasingly dominating the raw material and manufacturing aspects of the industry. Geographic overviews, also in a historical perspective, of seaweed raw material availability including prices and consumption, manufacturing capacities, and utilizations and sales of extracts is presented. Some current and future industry dynamics, requirements, and changing structures, e.g., Indonesia’s increasingly dominant role within farming of agar and carrageenan-bearing seaweed species, randomly imposing of seaweed harvest restrictions or ban on exports, creation of a global certification standard for seaweed, and supply-demand dynamics for seaweed versus future global population are presented. The industry is increasingly being commoditized and China has become an important and, in many cases, dominant factor within all types of seaweed hydrocolloids and some explanations to this and strategic response by the rest of the industry is also touched upon. Also presented are some areas where the seaweed industry needs help from the scientific community. The main challenge is the ongoing general seaweed deterioration experienced in cultivated species—how are the strains to be improved and revitalized and can cultivation techniques be improved further? There is a general trend towards sustainability and, although seaweed cultivation and harvest can be sustainable, there is interest in the development of greener processes.


Hydrocolloids Agar Alginate Carrageenan 



This paper has been prepared by the authors based on their knowledge and many years of direct involvement with the seaweed hydrocolloid industry and in particular carrageenan. To help with, or verify, our trade data and scientific information, we are especially thankful to Kechang Li, Bright Moon, and Tim Ngan, Green Fresh who updated us on the agar, alginate, and carrageenan developments in China and Claudio Banados, Alimex in Chile and Peru. Anastacio Cambonga and Hariadi Adnan both retired from CP Kelco and Soerianto Kusnowirjono of Agarindo Bogatama helped us with trade data and perspectives for Indonesia and the Philippines. The authors take full responsibility for the content of this paper.


  1. Adnan H, Porse H (1987) Culture of Eucheuma cottonii and Eucheuma spinosum in Indonesia. Hydrobiologia 151/152:355–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bixler H (2017) The carrageenan controversy. J Appl Phycol. doi: 10.1007/s10811-017-1132-4
  3. Bixler H, Porse H (2010) A decade of change in the seaweed hydrocolloids industry. J Appl Phycol 23:321–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Business World, Manila (2016) W Hydrocolloids buys Cebu seaweed processing facility.
  5. Callaway E (2015) Lab staple agar hit by seaweed shortage. Nature 528:171–172CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Delmendo M, Alvarez V, Rabanal H (1992) The evolution of seaweed farming development and its relevance to rural agro-development of coastal communities in the Philippines. FAO corporate document repository—2. Development of Eucheuma seaweed farmingGoogle Scholar
  7. FAO (2016) The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016.Contributing to food security and nutrition for all. FAO, Rome. 200 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Frangoudes K (2011) Seaweed fisheries management in France, Japan, Chile and Norway. Cah Biol Mar 52:1–9Google Scholar
  9. Góes H, Reis R (2011) An initial comparison of tubular netting versus tie-tie methods of cultivation for Kappaphycus alvarezii (Rhodophyta, Solieriaceae) on the south coast of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. J Appl Phycol 23:607–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hayashi L, Reis R (2012) Cultivation of the red alga Kappaphycus alvarezii in Brazil and its pharmacological potential. Braz J Pharmacog 22:748–752Google Scholar
  11. Holdt S, Kraan S (2011) Bioactive compounds in seaweed: functional food applications and legislation. J Appl Phycol 23:543–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hurtado A, Neish I, Critchley A (2015) Developments in production technology of Kappaphycus in the Philippines: more than four decades of farming. J Appl Phycol 27:1945–1961CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jiao G, Yu G, Zhang J, Ewart H (2011) Chemical structures and bioactivities of sulfated polysaccharides from marine algae. Mar Drugs 9:196–223CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Ladenburg S, Porse H (2015) Seaweed value chain program. Report submitted to SMART-Fish Indonesia/United Nations Development OrganisationGoogle Scholar
  15. Lim J, Porse H (1981) Breakthrough in commercial culture of Eucheuma spinosum in Northern Bohol, Philippines. In: Levring T (ed) Proceedings of the Xth International Seaweed Symposium W de Gruyter, Berlin. pp 601–606Google Scholar
  16. Lirasan T, Twide P (1993) Farming Eucheuma in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Hydrobiologia 260/261:353–355Google Scholar
  17. Loureiro R, Reis R, Critchley A (2010) In vitro cultivation of three Kappaphycus alvarezii (Rhodophyta, Areschougiaceae) variants (green, red and brown) exposed to a commercial extract of the brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum (Fucaceae, Ochrophyta). J Appl Phycol 22:101–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McKim J (2014) Food additive carrageenan: part I: a critical review of carrageenan in vitro studies, potential pitfalls, and implications for human health and safety. Cr Rev Toxicol 44:211–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McKim J, Baas H, Rice G, Willoughby J, Weiner M, Blakemore W (2016) Effects of carrageenan on cell permeability, cytotoxicity, and cytokine gene expression in human intestinal and hepatic cell lines. Food Chem Toxicol 96:1–10CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Nayar S, Bott K (2014) Current status of global cultivated seaweed production and markets. World Aquaculture Magazine June 2014:32Google Scholar
  21. Neish I (2005) The Eucheuma seaplant handbook volume 1. SeaPlantNet Technical Monograph No. o505-10A: 1–5; 1–6Google Scholar
  22. Préchoux A, Genicot S, Rogniaux H, Helbert W (2013) Controlling carrageenan structure using a novel formylglycine-dependent sulfatase, an endo-4S-iota-carrageenan sulfatase. Mar Biotechnol 15:265–274CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Tan I, Lee K (2016) Comparison of different process strategies for bioethanol production from Eucheuma cottonii: an economic study. Bioresour Technol 119:336–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.241Google Scholar
  25. Vega J, Broitman B, Vásquez J (2014) Monitoring the sustainability of Lessonia nigrescens (Laminariales, Phaeophyceae) in northern Chile under strong harvest pressure. J Appl Phycol 26:791–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. van de Velde F (2008) Structure and function of hybrid carrageenans. Food Hydrocoll 22:727–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Villanueva R, Romero J, Montaño M, Peña P (2011) Harvest optimization of four Kappahycus species from the Philippines. Biomass Bioenergy 35:1311–1316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Westermeier R, Patiño D, Murúa P, Quintanilla J, Correa J, Buschmann A, Barrow I (2012) A pilot-scale study of the vegetative propagation and suspended cultivation of the carrageenophyte alga Gigartina skotsbergii in southern Chile. J Appl Phycol 24:11–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yong W, Chin J, Thien V, Yasir S (2014a) Evaluation of growth rate and semi-refined carrageenan properties of tissue-cultured Kappaphycus alvarezii (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales). Phycol Res 62:316–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Yong W, Ting S, Yong Y, Thien V, Wong S, Chin W, Rodrigues K, Anton A (2014b) Optimization of culture conditions for the direct regeneration of Kappaphycus alvarezii (Rhodophyta, Solieriaceae). J Appl Phycol 26:1597–1606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Bedford Institute of Oceanography (2015) Commercial seaweeds: 2.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IntercolloidsVanloeseDenmark
  2. 2.CP Kelco ApSLille SkensvedDenmark

Personalised recommendations