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Seaweed Food Use in the U.K.

Global human seaweed consumption is increasing exponentially and, with the rise in popularity, sea vegetables are gradually becoming more and more available in local shops. Numerous celebrity chefs and world-renowned restaurants all around the globe are boosting the integration of marine algae into their menus1.

Recent surveys have shown that over two thirds of the general public in the western world have experienced eating algae at least once. The majority of these people have continued to consume seaweed, with their choice being primarily driven by the enjoyable taste and for health purposes.

Algae, and seafood in general, is perceived by the British population as healthy food2. Two thirds of the people who have discontinued their consumption of seaweed have done so due to a lack of product availability or lack of algae-related culinary knowledge3.

The U.K. is following the global trend of algal consumption. Sushi Trade U.K. has reported a 21% annual increase in sushi consumption in the U.K. in recent years, and a BBC home vote cast for the Children's BBC news program Healthyliving has shown that almost 60% of the British population would like to eat more sea vegetables and would consider eating seaweed products such as burgers.

The total amount of algae harvested in the U.K. is estimated at 12000 – 15000 wet tonnes per year, mainly from the Outer Hebrides, the Orkney Islands, Shetland, Northern Ireland and South Wales.

1. Fleurence 1999; Fitzgerald, Gallagher et al. 2011; FAO
2. Honkanen 2009; Edwards, Holdt et al. 2012
3. Edwards, Holdt et al. 2012

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