Towards sustainable European seaweed value chains: a triple P perspective

Burg, S.W.K. van den; Dagevos, H.; Helmes, R.J.K.


Seaweeds are seen as important future feedstock for Europe, providing biomass for food, feed, and other applications. Seaweeds can contribute to a circular food system a protein transition and bio-based economy. Europe is a minor player in the world market dominated by the Asian producers and processors. According to the FAO, total production of aquatic plants (dominated by seaweed) was 30 million tonnes in 2016, with China (47.9%) and Indonesia (38, 7%) dominating production. This article discusses the challenges to seaweed production and use in Europe and formulates future directions for upscaling the European seaweed sector. From a People, Planet, Profit perspective, there is no need to focus on producing large volumes of seaweed per se. We need to focus on nature-inclusive production systems, producing the right amount of the right seaweeds, based on the carrying capacity of the European seas. The seaweed sector must avoid developing along the “old” economy’s way of cost leadership but develop along the way of the “new” circular economy. Seaweeds should not be seen as a new product “added” to the market but become an integral part of the European food system, being used for human consumption, feed and improving production processes