The main seaweed species being cultivated in the UK and Europe are large brown macroalgae, known as ‘kelp’. However, despite the rapid expansion of seaweed farms, the industry still faces major barriers to development, mainly related to lack of primary processing infrastructure, poor supplychain coordination, and underdeveloped markets. The aim of this study is to assess these barriers in detail, and identify possible solutions. The focus is principally on post-harvest challenges to the supply chain, and the key role of ‘intermediaries’ or primary processors (Section 3). The report discusses cooperative enterprises as a mechanism for kelp farmers to “pool stock and help with processing, marketing and coordinating sales”, and steps to setting up a cooperative. It also looks at the relative advantages and disadvantages of cooperatives, and alternative models. Examples are given of other agricultural and seafood businesses in the UK that have worked cooperatively or collaboratively to strengthen their supply-chains and market position. The study also draws on case studies of kelp farming in Norway and the USA, both of which have more developed seaweed farming industries than Scotland (Section 4). The report then summarizes funding options available to new businesses, as well as financial interventions required to help build the industry (Section 5).
Read the full report here