A marine biologist is looking to bring seaweed to more dinner tables around the world.
Dr Craig Rose, managing director of North Shields-based Seaweed & Co, has been spreading the word on the number one food trend for 2017 since launching the business two years ago.
And now he is looking to break into the South Korean market – adding to distributors in America, Europe and Israel – thanks to ERDF funding, administered by the Department for International Trade.
It will fund a trip to the East, allowing Seaweed & Co to carry out essential market research, provide an opportunity to meet distributors and explore new business.
Craig said: “Seaweed is becoming more mainstream.
“People aren’t seeing it as this green smelly stuff anymore. This shift in people’s perceptions provided me with the perfect opportunity to start the business.”
Craig researched the benefits of seaweed for several years and he set up the company with high-quality in mind, investing in both production and education.
Now with a core team of three, Seaweed & Co supplies to big names such as Sainsbury’s, Batchelor’s and The Food Doctor.
Craig said: “Seaweed is no longer something to be hidden away on shelves in niche health shops, but something everybody should access.
“The benefits of seaweed are endless – things you would never think of like it being an effective way to reduce salt in food as well as it containing key nutrients like iodine.”
Seaweed & Co. works closely with Newcastle University, currently alongside the medical school, looking at how seaweed can help address obesity and diabetes.
Craig has developed a naturally smoked seaweed ingredient which is proving popular in the EU, and for the Asian market, where seaweed is a staple.
With the help of ERDF support, Craig will also showcase the product at the Vitafoods Tradeshow in Geneva, in May.
Craig said: “ERDF support has been invaluable for us and it has gone way beyond financial.
“It has not just enabled us to fund international trips but has also given us the network and knowledge we needed to succeed on a global scale.
“Going overseas and understanding trade agreements can be daunting for a small company, but the Department for International Trade provides vital guidance and advice.
“We have received constant support from our International Trade Advisor Ron Ingram and I feel like they really care about helping our business.”
The future is looking bright for Seaweed & Co. It is exploring opportunities in the food and drink and health sectors and is hoping to increase sales dramatically in the next 12 months.
North East England Chamber of Commerce international trade director, Julie Underwood, said: “Seaweed & Co. is a company that is going from strength to strength.
“We are pleased to be able to support them in taking their unique product further afield.
“It is brilliant for us to be able to help North East businesses go global, developing overseas links and gaining distributors and customers.”