Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is not only developing seaweed-based food products, but also other applications. Nikel, for example, is studying the use of seaweed to cut methane gas emissions from cows. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Cascadia Seaweed hopes to float to the top of a growing industry

Vancouver Island food products based on seaweed could hit local shelves in spring 2021

If everything goes according to plan for Sidney’s Cascadia Seaweed, seaweed-based foods could appear on local shelves in the spring of 2021, with more growth ahead.

“When the products hit the shelves, we are then going to want to scale up even faster to hit the demand,” said Erin Bremner-Mitchell, manager of communications and engagement.

The company continues to grow, while researching and testing various types of seaweed-based foods including a vegan jerk, fresh salads and on-the-go snacks.

“We know that seaweed can service somebody’s day from morning to night and all their on-the-go, in-between (snack needs),” said Bremner-Mitchell. “I think the market is hungry for a solution just like this one,” she said later in pointing to the growing global demand for food products that are not only nutritious but also less harmful on the environment because of their growing practices.

Seaweed, specifically the sugar kelp the company grows in partnership with First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island, checks many boxes. Long a part of traditional First Nation diets, it is rich in protein, easily grown and binds harmful gases responsible for climate change. It also does not take much effort to incorporate into a meal.

RELATED: Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

RELATED: Port Alberni Food Hub opens to seafood processors

Founded in 2019 with the goal of being the largest provider of seaweed in North America, the company is starting to get recognition beyond industry insiders through awards and growing media coverage, including Time, which cited the company as well as its partners in a lengthy online article about the seaweed industry as a response to the dual problems of global climate change and food security.

Bill Collins, company chair, said it is both gratifying and about time for British Columbia companies in the industry to receive recognition for the work they are doing in helping to solve global problems.

He added that the article will increase brand awareness for the company, and more importantly its First Nations partners. “We have to make sure that we have champions through and through,” he said. “We want to go on record as putting Sidney on the map in terms of seaweed.”

Collins said Pepsico has reached out to the company after the article’s appearance. “Their research department is looking for new innovative flavours and they want samples of our seaweed,” he said. The company has also already drawn attention from those looking to invest. “So just about every week over the last two months, we have had some conversation with investors in that community,” he said.

While seaweed already appears in many household and food products, be it toothpaste, cosmetics or taco seasoning, Cascadia Seaweed is also exploring other uses that align with the company’s environmental ethics.

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist with the company, is currently working on developing seaweed-based feed for cows that promise to reduce their methane emissions.

“Our goal is to hopefully reduce methane emissions by 90 per cent using seaweed,” she said.

Seaweed also has medical applications and can be used to create packaging that would ape plastic but without its harmful effects, she said.

Nikel also points to the more general benefits of seaweed. “Algae is responsible for 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen. So whenever you say, ‘plant more trees, plant more trees,’ you should be growing more seaweed.”

Plenty of challenges remain ahead but for Bremner-Mitchell, the potential appears immense. “We believe there is room in the industry in British Columbia for nine other companies just like Cascadia, who want an aggressive scale-up plan just like us,” she said. “We originally thought that 100 hectares was going to service the demand. Now, we don’t even think a 1000 hectares is enough. We truly believe that we are building a sector.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Painters Jim Tulip, Doug Mackenzie and Gary Henslowe were painting the exterior of the Duncan Butcher Shop and Apple Press printing shop, located between the Trans Canada Highway and Whistler Street, on Oct. 8 as part of neighbourhood painting project. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan’s Whistler Street sees a fresh lick of paint in opioid battle

Group wants to help clean up community, one street at a time

Maureen Cue, owner of Disguise the Limit costume shop, models – maybe the most obvious – pandemic costume. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Vancouver Island costume expert showcases pandemic-safe Halloween looks

Maureen Cue models the best masked Halloween costumes

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
West Coast mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

COVID-19 reduces interest in what has otherwise been a good season

(pixabay photo)
Bakker: Feeling alone after a miscarriage

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month

Dylan Hillis preparing collagen samples from ancient dog bones at the UBC musuem of Anthropology. Photo: Eric Guiry
Ancient ‘woolly dog’ ate mostly fish, new University of Victoria study finds

Study gives researchers better understanding of human-dog relationships on Tsehaht First Nation

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Visitors stroll through Goldstream Provincial Park on a calm, crisp Sunday. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Visitors flock to Goldstream Provincial Park for 2020 salmon run

‘I wanted to come here before I move back to Australia,’ says visitor

File Photo
Planned power outage in Port Alice Oct. 27

BC Hydro crews to work from midnight to 4 a.m. replacing substation equipment

Greg Duerksen and his family. (gofundme photo)
Firefighter prepares for stem cell transplant

Friends rally to help raise funds for Duerksen family

Legendary Vancouver-based blues and jazz guitarist and vocalist Jim Byrnes will perform live at the Tidemark Theatre in a concert that will also be streamed. Contributed photo
Legendary blues musician and actor Jim Byrnes hits the Island

Playing Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre for a hybrid live/online show

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Facebook photo)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Most Read