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January 12, 2023

Biddeford edible seaweed producer partners with Japanese food manufacturer

person in orange jacket with line of seaweed COURTESY / OCEAN'S BALANCE Vertically integrated seaweed farmer and food producer Ocean’s Balance, in Biddeford, raised a round of financing from investors in Japan, Norway and the U.S. to expand farming, processing and production.
Biddeford-based Ocean's Balance was founded in 2016 by Mitchell Lench and Tollef Olson.
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Ocean’s Balance, a Biddeford company that makes edible seaweed products, is tapping into "two of the hottest food trends" by raising funds from investors in Japan and Norway.

The seed money plus equity investments will allow Ocean’s Balance to scale its regenerative sea farming and processing operations and ramp up its ingredients and consumer products businesses.

The round included participation from Oslo, Norway, impact-focused investor and accelerator program Katapult; a large Nagano, Japan, food manufacturer called St. Cousair; and the chairman of one of the largest natural food companies in the U.S., whose name was not disclosed.

There will be a second closing this quarter.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As the anchor investor, St. Cousair, which manufactures and sells over 1,000 food products, will help Ocean’s Balance develop and manufacture Japanese-inspired food products that incorporate seaweed. 

“Asian cuisine and seaweed are two of the hottest food trends in restaurants and home kitchens across North America,” Mitchell Lench, CEO of Ocean’s Balance, said in a news release.

person smiling by harbor in plaid shirt
Mitchell Lench

Naoki Kuze, CEO of St. Cousair, said his team sees “huge potential” in Ocean’s Balance’s use of seaweed.

“Working together, there is great synergy to bring innovative Japanese-inspired food products that contain healthy Maine-grown seaweed to US consumers,” Kuze said.

Ocean’s Balance said it has been rapidly expanding its consumer packaged goods and industrial ingredients sales while simultaneously scaling up its kelp hatchery, farming and advanced manufacturing capacity. 

Katapult has a number of investments in seaweed and sees increasing opportunities for its application, said Jonas Skattum Svegaarden, Katapult’s CEO.

Ocean’s Balance makes a line of seaweed products designed for use as an ingredient in cooking, as a topping, or to be eaten out of the bag.

In 2018, Ocean’s Balance expanded to a 3,000-square-foot space in the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford and launched nine new edible seaweed products.

Founded in 2016 by Lench and Tollef Olson, the company’s first product line was a shelf-stable kelp puree in 9-ounce jars for retail and gallon containers for the service industry.

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