Exports The global demand for seaweed has shown robust growth globally with an average annual growth rate of 8.1% between 2022 and 2026

Export Promotion Directorate
The global demand for algae has shown solid growth worldwide with an average annual growth rate of 8.1% between 2021 and 2026. Definitely one of the most dynamic markets worldwide is that of algae, which, according to the consultancy Mordor International, is expected to show an average annual growth of 8.1% between 2021 and 2026, to be valued at around USD 24 billion.
This positive behavior is explained, in part, by the optimal positioning of algae as top-level healthy superfoods due to their functional properties, where spirulina and chlorella are the fashionable products.
Another important factor to take into account is the growing demand for marine algae for the manufacture of hydrocolloids such as agar, alginate or carrageenan; which are used as natural gelling agents in the food and pharmaceutical industry. In this segment, brown and red algae dominate the category, including macrocystis pyrifera and chondracanthus chamissoi, lessonia trabeculata, lessonia nigrenscens, irishseamoss, chondrus crispus, pelillo, gracilaria, codium, generally known as yuyo, chicory, ulva lactuca, Eisenia cokeri , Gigartina chamissoi, rhodymenia, Macrocystis integrifolia, sea lettuce, Ecklonia arborea, growing in the Peruvian Sea.
Although historically most of the consumption of seaweed has been concentrated in the Europe, Asia-Pacific region, especially in markets such as China, Japan and South Korea. Taiwan, United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Ireland
In the last decade, its popularity in Western countries has increased significantly due to its beneficial properties for health. In Europe, for example, growing awareness of animal welfare has accelerated the adoption of vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, in which seaweed has become a key ingredient in both food and cosmetic products.
In fact, according to their app, 73% of the world’s demand for seaweed is met by the food and beverage industry. Thus, in addition to being consumed fresh or dried, it has also begun to be processed into flours used in the preparation of breads, noodles, cookies, and fortified extruded products. For its part, 15% of the demand corresponds to the dietary supplements industry, where it has a growing popularity due to its nutritional and metabolic properties as a result of its high levels of magnesium and iron. In this segment, brown algae such as kelp are gaining particular relevance due to recent studies indicating that they contain a high percentage of soluble fibers and a distinctive amino acid composition compared to other vegetables, making them a potential source of new types of fibers. dietary
Although for the moment the demand is concentrated in the food industry, it is important to mention the recent advances and innovations regarding other productive sectors. Such is the case of the use of ulva lactuca for the collection of electrical currents without environmental impact in Israel or the development of macrocystis-based biostimulants. Likewise, in Mexico and India there are initiatives for the production of packaging and bioplastics based on macrocystis. Finally, it has been possible to notice new launches in the dermatology industry such as macrocystis-based skin care cosmetics in the United States or lessonia-based natural powders in France.
Good prospects for Peruvian exports
Directly proportional to the growth in world demand, Peruvian seaweed exports have increased remarkably in the last six years, reaching USD 39 million in 2021, totaling USD 44 million.
According to the trade names available at SUNAT, more than half of Peruvian exports correspond to the macrocystis variety. By far, the main destination for this product is China and, to a lesser extent, Mexico. On the other hand, around 15% of seaweed shipments belong to the lessonia variety that are directed solely to the Asian continent.
Finally, other exported varieties are Gracilaria and Chondracanthus (yuyo), the latter with significant demand in the Canadian market.
Finally, it is important to mention the private efforts to develop the exportable supply of other macroalgae with high potential in the south of the country, such as spirulina. In this context, with a greater supply of algae, Peru could position itself as one of the world leaders in the export of these products.

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