By converting an invasive underwater species into a healthy and delicious product, Alg Seaweed's produce is notably innovative with its hand-harvesting process and emphasis on helping local suppliers. Furthermore, the business operation supports the ocean environment, thus balancing the entire ecosystem.
In the ocean ecology, the invasive Wakame seaweed is an underwater species which can be abundantly found in cold temperate areas of the Northwest Pacific region, and has now colonised in Australia and New Zealand by 2 or 3 generations per year. If the invasive species becomes continues to contaminate in the ocean, innumerable ocean habitats will be eradicated thus adversely affecting the entire ecosystem.
Since 2017, Alg Seaweed has been working with sustainable local suppliers that hand-harvest Wakame seaweed. Then, the hand-harvested seaweed is refined into edible seaweed sprinkle. Not only that will help to lessen the impact of the invasive species’ harm in the ocean, Wakame seaweed is a healthy product as it has the highest content in iodine which supplies our bodies with plenty of healthy micro and macronutrients. According to Sarah, Alg Seaweed's operation is described as “getting rid of the waste from the ocean and turn it into something that is beneficial for consumption”
It is notable that Alg Seaweed’s innovated product, which is the seaweed sprinkle, is the result of sustainable management aimed at balancing the ocean environment. Thus the business operation successfully meets the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 14 which is “by 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans”.
Having nutrition and dietetics background, Sarah used to own a private consulting company prior founding Alg Seaweed. She found that iodine is an essential mineral for child growth and pregnant women. She also understood that iodine deficiency is very common in Australia and can lead to serious problems such as affecting children’s intellectual development and causing thyroid problems.
Following that, Sarah conducted her research in order to solve the nation's health problem. She found that seafood is much needed to alleviate this health issue, and that seaweed has the highest content of natural and nutritious iodine. Hence, the establishment of Alg Seaweed led her in pioneering the Australian seaweed industry. Sarah aims to "promote and increase awarenesss of iodine deficiency without pushing iodised salt".
"A scenario that we haven’t really tapped into – I guess people would know more about it (seaweed industry) in the future”
Since the seaweed industry is still very new in Australia, the innovation has yet to leave any significant impact. However, Sarah believes that in the short run, there will be an increased awareness of the seaweed industry, seaweed’s nutritious benefits and the very common iodine deficiency in Australia.
“In Northern Australia, seaweed is used to purify water. Hopefully, there will be more seaweed applications in the near future. There is definitely more things to do with seaweed in the industry”
In the long run, Sarah believes that there will be more seaweed applications. For example, Sarah said that "feeding cows with seaweed can reduce methane emission". She also mentioned that Northern Australia has used seaweed to purify water.
“We can do more with different types of seaweed species”
Alg Seaweed’s products are now successfully being sold in markets and distributed to local shops. However, the seaweed industry is still very new and young and not many locals have tapped into the industry yet. Therefore, Sarah is currently using the opportunity to explore more seaweed usages.
“From the environment point of view, it will definitely help the ocean to keep clean”
In environmental aspect, hand-harvesting Wakame seaweed removes the surplus of this invasive species in the ocean, hence protects the ocean environment. This business operates not only to prevent harm but also to help sustainable local suppliers. Therefore, Alg Seaweed’s operation contributes to the healthy ecosystem and business environment; a win-win situation for flora, fauna and people.
Moreover, the nutritious benefits that Alg Seaweed's products deliver are able to help alleviate the long-standing national health issue, the iodine deficiency.
Sarah Leung, Ms
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Melbourne, VIC, AU
Business Website: algseaweed.com
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Founded by Sarah Leung, Alg Seaweed is an online store that has specialised in Wakame seaweed sprinkle since May 2017. With a sustainable process, Alg Seaweed is now pioneering the Australian seaweed industry by hand-harvesting Wakame seaweed which in turn protects the ocean environment.