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Government backs edible seaweed venture

A pest seaweed is to be turned into a premium edible export in a Government funded venture announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash today.

Coromandel company Wakame Fresh is receiving $75,000 of funding through the Government’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to investigate the commercial viability of turning a weed into a high value export industry.

“This is the first project the fund is supporting and it’s a perfect example of the type of innovation I created the fund for”, Mr O’Connor said.

“I established the $40 million a year fund last year to support this Government’s move away from volume to value.

“The food and fibre industries are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, delivering more than $45 billion in export revenue last year. The Coalition Government wants to help extract more value from what they already do, in a sustainable way that means our natural resources will be there for future generations.

“This fund provides a single gateway for farmers and growers to apply for investment in a greater range of projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits that flow through to all Kiwis.

“Undaria, also known as wakame, is often referred to as ‘the gorse of the sea’. It’s one of the world’s most invasive pests. It’s also a staple part of the diet in Japan, where quality wakame is in short supply. The Wakame Fresh team are turning gorse into gourmet!

“This project is really exciting. It’s pioneering, it’s innovative and it has the potential to create new market opportunities. It also supports a Government priority to assist thriving and sustainable regions.

“This could be the next big thing for New Zealand. We could be looking at the start of a lucrative edible seaweed export market into Japan and other Asian countries”.

Minister Nash says a number of people, including investors and researchers, are interested in this project’s trial and its results.

“If successful, it will encourage New Zealand’s aquaculture sector to collaborate and invest further in this area.

“Aquaculture is a growth industry for this country and has the potential to play a more significant role in our economy. It’s currently worth $600 million a year and employs over 3000 people.

“We want to be the most productive, sustainable country in the world. Projects like this will contribute to New Zealand’s reputation in sustainable and innovative aquaculture”.


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