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September 13, 2022

Maine’s seaweed industry, grown 20-fold in five years, featured in new report

2 people hauling kelp on rope in ocean Courtesy / Ocean’s Balance Maine’s seaweed production grew from 45,000 pounds in 2017 to over 1 million pounds in 2022. Seen here is a kelp farm owned by Ocean’s Balance.

Maine has experienced tremendous growth in its seaweed production, from 45,000 pounds in 2017 to over 1 million pounds in 2022, according to a financial benchmarking report by the Maine Aquaculture Association.

Maine’s working waterfront communities grew more than 85% of the cultivated seaweed in the U.S. in 2021. Entrepreneurs across the state are using seaweed in products ranging from sugar kelp vodka to body cream. The harvest of wild seaweed dates back to practices of the Wabanaki people.

Globally, the value of the commercial seaweed industry is estimated to be $23 billion by 2027, up from $15 billion in 2021.

Now a new report, published this month by FocusMaine, provides a summary of  Maine’s contribution to the rapidly growing industry.

The “Maine Seaweed Showcase” outlines over 35 businesses, projects, programs and initiatives that are part of Maine’s seaweed aquaculture industry.

FocusMaine is a private initiative designed to accelerate economic growth and create quality job sin Maine’s agriculture, aquaculture and biotech sectors. 

Features businesses include those making food, personal care and bioplastic products out of seaweed. The report provides descriptions and links to research into topics such as the development of kelp farming as well as related issues, such as ocean acidification, that can impact the industry.

Additional data, organizations and seaweed related events — such as Maine Seaweed Week, an annual food and drink festival celebrating Maine’s spring kelp harvest — are included in the FocusMaine report.

The goal of the publication is to help future business development and investment attraction in Maine.
To view the report, click here.

The report was produced in conjunction with Seagriculture USA, a two-day conference held last week in Portland that hosted over 300 seaweed industry experts from 27 countries.

It was the first time the conference was held in North America. It was supported and organized the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, Maine Technology Institute, Maine International Trade Center and Maine North Atlantic Development Office. Prior to being held in Portland, Seagriculture conference had been held in Europe. 

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