The global commercial seaweeds market size was calculated to be at USD 5.9 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to witness a CAGR of 9.1% over the forecast period. Technological developments in cultivating cultured seaweed coupled with rising investments in application segments, including animal feed and agriculture, are likely to propel market growth in the coming years.
Increasing awareness pertaining to the health benefits of the product coupled with increasing demand for foods and snacks derived from commercial seaweed is estimated to boost the human consumption application segment. The swelling demand for marine plant extracts, used as a thickening and gelling agents in the cosmetic and food industries, is also likely to boost growth, primarily in North America and Europe.
The industry in the U.S. was valued at USD 311.4 million in 2019. It was the fastest-growing region in North America owing to the strong presence of application industries. The industry in the U.S. is anticipated to expand further due to increasing awareness regarding the application of the product in the pharmaceutical industry.
The consumption of commercial seaweed as food can be traced back to the 4th century in Japan and the 6th century in China. Today, China, Japan, and South Korea are the leading consumers of the product. However, as residents from these countries migrated to other countries, the demand for the product for food has shifted with them, as, for instance, in a few parts of the U.S. along with South America.
Increasing demand over the last fifty years outstripped the ability to supply requirements from natural (wild) stocks. Research regarding the life cycles of commercial sea vegetables have led to the development of cultivation industries that now produce more than 90.0 percent of the overall demand. In Ireland, Iceland and Nova Scotia (Canada), a different type of sea vegetable has traditionally been eaten, and the market for commercial seaweed is being developed.
For centuries, seaweed has been utilized across the globe, and was considered only as a food source for coastal communities decades ago. Apart from its widespread use in many industries, commercial sea vegetables add significantly to the nutritional status of the community owing to its rich composition of macronutrients (calcium, sodium, potassium among others), micronutrients (iodine, iron, zinc among others), and vitamins.
In 2019, red seaweed was the largest product segment with a share of more than 50.0%. The segment is projected to expand at the fastest CAGR in the coming years. Red seaweed is used in numerous sectors on account of their excellent functional attributes. They are utilized as food crops offering high quantities of vitamins and proteins. Varied application scope coupled with easy availability of red seaweed is likely to drive the segment.
Brown seaweed was the second-largest product segment in 2019 with a share of over 45.0%. Mainly, brown seaweeds are used as foods and as raw materials for the extraction of hydrocolloid and alginate. The brown seaweeds are more useful and grow in cold waters in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They thrive best in waters up to about 20°C. Brown seaweeds are found in warmer waters, but these are less suitable for alginate production and are rarely used as food.
Foods derived from commercial sea vegetables are considered to be rich in iodine. Brown seaweed also contains vitamin B-9, B-2, and B-12, iron, magnesium, and fiber. The product segment is estimated to witness a strong CAGR during the forecast period due to wide application scope. Rising health awareness coupled with continuous research and development activities aimed towards the development of product applications is expected to propel segment growth.
Food produced from brown seaweeds is mostly from the genera Undaria, Laminaria, and Hizikia. Initially, yields from natural sea vegetables were the only source, but with increasing demand from the last 50 years, new practices for cultivation have been developed. Currently, commercial seaweed for food is mainly cultured rather than natural sources.
Based on form, the commercial seaweeds market has been bifurcated into liquid, powdered, and flakes. In 2019, the liquid commercial seaweed emerged as the largest segment with a revenue share of more than 52.0%. The liquid form of commercial sea vegetables is utilized as foliar fertilizer and soil conditioner for plants to provide minerals, vitamins, potassium, and enzymes that accelerate plant growth.
Seaweed extracts are marketed as biostimulants and liquid fertilizers since they comprise many growth regulators such as auxin, betaines, cytokinins, gibberellins, and macronutrients including K, Ca, and P, and micronutrients including Cu, B, Fe, Zn, Mn, Co, and Mo. Growing product demand as biostimulants and insecticides for plant growth is estimated to boost its growth over the forecast period.
The powdered form of commercial sea vegetables is utilized in the human consumption application segment as cosmetic and food products. They are used as scrubs, masks, and body wraps. Rapidly expanding application industries, including food and beverage and cosmetics, along with increasing focus of consumers on beauty and health are projected to drive the segment.
Commercial seaweed in the form of flakes is widely used in the food industry. Increasing demand for organic food products is likely to boost segment growth. The nutritional value of commercial seaweed stays undamaged in flakes, which makes it suitable for consumption in the food processing industry. Dulse flakes are employed in cheese, salad, hummus, and condiment.
Seaweed is a very useful product and is generally used as food for humans. It is also utilized as fertilizer and as an animal feed additive in the food and cosmetics industry. Commercial harvesting occurs in numerous countries, in waters ranging from cold, through temperate, to tropical.
The human consumption application segment accounted for over 77.0% of the overall share, and it is anticipated to grow at the fastest rate over the coming years. Awareness regarding healthy eating habits, growing population, and rising disposable income are some of the key factors which are likely to drive the segment.
In 2019, animal feed emerged as the second-largest segment and is expected to gain a high revenue share in the market for commercial seaweed in the coming years owing to the rising focus on enhancing animal productivity. Processed commercial sea vegetables in the form of animal feed are recognized to improve the health conditions of livestock.
Seaweed extracts are low-cost sources of naturally occurring plant growth regulators that possess larger potential as biostimulants in agriculture. In the countries, particularly in India, the agriculture application segment is anticipated to experience high growth in the future. Increased focus on improving the agricultural productivity in India and China is the major driving factor for the segment.
In terms of revenue, the red seaweed product segment in the U.S. is likely to expand at the fastest CAGR of 9.2% from 2020 to 2027. The U.S. remains an important outlet for semi-processed and processed seaweed. Carrageenan is the main component in the U.S. seaweed imports. Its imports have witnessed a significant increase since the U.S. has lifted the ban on Philippines Natural Grade (PNG) Carrageenan in the late 1980s.
Asia Pacific emerged as the largest regional market for commercial seaweed in 2019 and is likely to expand further at the fastest growth rate in the coming years. The growth is mostly attributed to the heightened demand and production from countries including China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan. Increasing product demand in the regional food industry is anticipated to boost the market for commercial seaweed in Asia Pacific.
Rapid industrialization, coupled with environment-friendly regulations, is anticipated to benefit the growth of the market for commercial seaweed in the region. High demands from countries including China, India, and Japan, are projected to be critical contributors toward market growth. In Asia Pacific, the market for commercial seaweed accounted for over 60.0% of the total consumption in 2019.
In Asia Pacific, the market for commercial seaweed is propelled by increasing applications of commercial sea vegetables particularly in food, nutraceuticals, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, adhesives, and gels. In Europe, the market for commercial seaweed is expected to expand at a significant growth rate owing to increased seaweed cultivation in numerous countries including Ireland, France, and the U.K. High demand from the healthcare and food industries is likely to augment growth over the forecast period.
The market for commercial seaweed comprises of the upstream producer, vendors, end-users along with other stakeholders and government organizations. Some of the major companies in this market for commercial seaweed are Cargill, Inc.; Roullier Group; E.I. DuPont Nemours and Company; Biostadt India Ltd.; and Compo GmbH and Co.
Mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures are the crucial strategies adopted by the majority of these companies to expand their market share. Most of the key industry participants also have their own distribution network to provide product quality in order to gain a competitive advantage in the form of cost benefits with the support of increased profit margin.
Base year for estimation
Actual estimates/Historical data
2016 - 2018
2020 - 2027
Revenue in USD Million; and CAGR from 2020 to 2027
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Central and South America, Middle East & Africa
U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, U.K., France, Ireland, Spain, Norway, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa
Revenue forecast, company share, competitive landscape, growth factors and trends
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This report forecasts revenue growth at global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the latest industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2020 to 2027. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global commercial seaweeds market report on the basis of product, form, application, and region:
Product Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Form Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Application Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2027)
Central & South America
Middle East & Africa
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The demand for nutraceuticals & functional foods is expected to witness an upward surge owing to consumers opting for immunity boosting supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, a decline in the consumption of poultry, meat and seafood products across the globe is expected to increase the demand for plant and animal-based protein supplements in the near future. The report will account for Covid19 as a key market contributor.