Portland hosting global seaweed conference

Maine Ocean
Maine Ocean(WABI)
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 1:59 PM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - Experts in the commercial seaweed business are in Portland this week for a conference focused on growing the industry.

Maine leads the country in seaweed production, harvesting about 60% of product produced nationwide.

In years past, the Seagriculture conference has been held in Europe and Asia. Bert Groenendaal, the conference’s program manager, said Maine’s steadily-growing industry made it the perfect location for the event’s first trip to the United States.

Samantha DeGroff, the marketing and project manager for Waldoboro-based North American Kelp, said the event provides a unique opportunity for kelp harvesters, farmers and entrepreneurs to meet face-to-face and share insight into the future of the industry.

“We want to grow ourselves, but we also want the market to grow,” DeGroff said. “We (Maine) have an expansive coastline, and we have really nutrient-dense, nutrient-rich waters, and it’s one of the cleanest waters that you’ll find in the U.S.”

The two-day conference is focused on moving the global industry forward by increasing the scale of production, ensuring sustainability and improving product marketing to reach more western consumers.

“In Asia, it’s a huge industry,” said Simon Johansson, CEO of Nordic Seafarm in Sweden. “In Asia, you eat seaweed like we eat pasta in Europe.”

Johannson said in both Europe and North America, more headway is being made towards getting consumers familiar with and excited about kelp-based products, and not just those that are made for the dinner table.

“We see more and more uses of seaweed in food, in feed, in bioplastics and biostimulants,” Johannson said.

The Seagriculture conference ends Friday afternoon.