Growing concerns associated with the environmental impacts of livestock farming have encouraged the shift to newer and more sustainable plant-based protein sources. Seaweed is one such superfood that has gained popularity lately. It is touted to be a nutrient-rich protein alternative and an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and trace elements. Seaweed is also one of the very few sustainable protein alternatives with negligible environmental impact.

As protein deficiency becomes a cause of concern among vegetarians, the demand for seaweed protein may increase in the coming years. According to the latest report by Global Market Insights, the seaweed protein market size is likely to exceed USD 850 million by 2030.

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The rising demand for plant-based protein and the need to limit carbon emissions has incited the practice of seaweed farming. As per a study conducted by World Bank, seaweed farming helps remove toxins from seawater and is also considered to have a negative carbon footprint, with the ability to capture 20% more carbon than it produces.

Discussed below are the top 3 application areas where seaweed protein is attracting consumer interest:

1. Personal Care and Cosmetics

Consumers are purchasing organic cosmetics, nutricosmetics, and cosmeceuticals owing to growing awareness associated with the benefits of natural ingredients in treating dermatological disorders. Seaweed is extensively used in a variety of personal care products including shampoos, moisturizers, deodorants, and more.

Beauty products formulated with seaweed-derived compounds have superior bioactive capabilities. This is due to the presence of optimum levels of proteins, amino acids, peptides, polyphenols, lipids, polysaccharides, vitamins, and minerals in the microalgae. Due to such physical and chemical properties, seaweed is used as a gelling, texturizing, thickening, emulsifying, and moistening agent in cosmetics and beauty products.

The trend of ocean skincare or marine cosmetics is also gaining grip across various countries. These products use seaweed as an essential ingredient as it contains antimicrobial, anti-aging, photoprotective, anti-melanogenic, anti-inflammatory, whitening, and anti-acne properties. Red seaweed is one such good source of vitamin B12 which shows anti-aging properties and is essential for hair & nail growth. Skincare brands are leveraging this ongoing trend to formulate newer products that meet consumer requirements.

2. Animal feed & additives

Seaweed protein has considerable application scope in animal feed and supplements. Its use in feed products can significantly improve the health and performance of animals. It can also strengthen immunity, increase antioxidant activity, and improve gut health.

Animal feed fortified with seaweed protein could play a crucial role in livestock farming as it helps attain high-quality meat and milk. Various studies and trials have demonstrated the ability of seaweed to act as a prebiotic and boost the production and overall health of livestock.

Attempts to lower carbon footprint will also encourage the use of seaweed protein in the animal feed sector. Animal farming activities are among the major contributors to the growing carbon footprint and climate change, one of the major factors urging manufacturers to discover sustainable solutions for animal feed. In 2022, Hawai’i-based startup Symbrosia announced its partnership with livestock producer Carman Ranch and carbon neutral foods company, Neutral Foods to integrate its seaweed feed additive SeaGraze™ that reduces livestock methane emissions by over 80% into the diet of Carman Ranch.

3. Food & beverage

Awareness regarding the negative impacts of consuming foods that contains artificial ingredients has raised the demand and preference for organic ingredients. Companies in the food and beverage sector are adding seaweed protein to their products given its various health benefits. The ingredient contains nutrients and minerals like sodium, magnesium, copper, and zinc that are vital for improving the overall nutritional value of food items.

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Several food manufacturers and ingredient providers are launching new products that include seaweed protein. This comes on account of growing consumer interest in plant-based proteins, vegan meat alternatives, and new earthy flavors.

The future ahead:

Seaweed protein is likely to be the next big thing in the plant-based meat industry. Consumers are preferring organic ingredients in food products driven by growing awareness regarding the ill effects of artificial ingredients on human health. Efforts to lower emissions from livestock farming will encourage companies to look for the possibility to include seaweed protein in animal feed products.

About Global Market Insights Inc.

Global Market Insights Inc., headquartered in Delaware, U.S., is a global market research and consulting service provider. Offering syndicated and custom research reports, growth consulting and business intelligence services, Global Market Insights, Inc. aims to help clients with penetrative insights and actionable market data that aid in strategic decision making.

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