AgriSea New Zealand’s functional beverage aims to popularize seaweed beyond Asia
14 Dec 2021 --- New Zealand’s national science challenge, High-Value Nutrition (HVN), has awarded NZ$48,000 (US$32,000) to AgriSea New Zealand, which has recently developed a seaweed beverage that captures the health benefits of seaweed in a tasty and convenient way.
“The key outcome of this project, which is to develop a novel seaweed beverage that is backed by science and consumers alike, will bolster confidence in taking the final product to both the domestic and international market and in scaling up production on-site,” says Dr. Melodie Lindsay, R&D scientist at AgriSea.
“HVN is supporting this business using advanced analytical methods and consumer testing to validate the nutritional profile and consumer liking of this novel seaweed beverage product,” adds Joanne Todd, HVN National Science Challenge director.
Particularly potent bioactives
Seaweed is naturally a highly nutritious food, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and bioactives.
According to AgriSea, seaweed is a particularly unique source of marine bioactive compounds due to their lack of physical defense structures. Therefore, they must survive by producing chemical defense mechanisms.
Because any chemicals they produce into the water will be immediately diluted, the compounds are very potent and have a highly targeted mode of action. These features are of high relevance for bioactive discovery.
As a seaweed-based product, the health beverage will include clean label, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan properties.
Additionally, AgriSea’s proprietary brewing system preserves the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in its Ecklonia radiata seaweed.
Encouraging everyday consumption
Seaweed has seen “huge” popularity in China, Japan and Korea, and it has a long history of consumption by coastal communities around the world.
However, HVN notes that seaweed has seen a relatively low global uptake into everyday diets in New Zealand.
The limited exposure and accessibility in the Western market is a large barrier to more widespread access and consumption of these health-promoting compounds, so its full potential is yet unrealized, argues AgriSea.
However, seaweed is starting to become more popular in these markets thanks to its associations with better-for-you and functional snacking.
Companies like Seaweed & Co., for example, are harnessing seaweed off the coast of Scotland to produce microencapsulated ingredients that can be easily dissolved into beverages.
Backing New Zealand industry
AgriSea is a Māori business based in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The development of the seaweed business follows the recent addition of an on-site food-grade facility at AgriSea’s Business Park in Paeroa.
The HVN Challenge has recently approved a large number of other projects in New Zealand that will be completed together with industry and business partners.
Earlier this week, it backed Comvita’s manuka honey trial for digestive health, while over the summer, it funded a Pāmu investigation of deer milk for healthy aging.
Edited by Katherine Durrell
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, NutritionInsight.
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