AgriSea New Zealand is a family company that has been pioneering the seaweed industry for 25 years. It produces certified organic liquid seaweed concentrates and cosmetics (under the Ocean Organics brand), and seaweed ferments for the agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and apiculture markets. The seaweed is gathered sustainably from the shores of coastal communities after storms.
The solid biomass that is left over from the fermentation process is used in a range of stock health products including seaweed pellets and salt licks. However AgriSea is often left with big mounds of seaweed after the re-drying process that is given away to local gardeners.
A chance encounter with scientists from Scion led to discussions about the crystalline structure of seaweed and nanocellulose technology. As a result both organisations received a Smart Ideas Government Grant to look at high tech, high value uses of this ‘waste stream’ – potentially creating environmentally-friendly composite materials to replace plastics. AgriSea hopes to add value to this wet seaweed that can be shared back with seaweed harvesters in remote coastal communities.