Investment could make Indonesia a hub for seaweed ingredients

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics

Indonesia could become one of the world’s leading sources of seaweed ingredients for cosmetic products, after the government has announced a major investment in the sector.

This week the Indonesian government announced an investment of $17m that should help farmers to grow their businesses and expand the cultivation of seawood in an effort to feed growing demand from the cosmetics sector, as well as the food and healthcare industries.

News of the investment was announced at the International Seaweed Symposium, which is being held in Bali this week and has grouped together some of the leading players and processors in the cultivation of seaweed.

Sharif Cicip Sutardjo, the minister of fisheries, spoke at the event, stating that the aim of the government’s investment was to turn seaweed farmers into exporters or processed seaweed products, instead of just raw materials.

Processing seaweed likely to give producers greater dividends

The government believes that processing raw materials for applications such as extracts used in cosmetic and personal care products is likely to bring about greater dividends for the producers.

The government says that it hopes to create an extra 600 hundred jobs in the area and also wants to raise its annual seaweed production target from 5.2 million tons last year, to a figure of 7.5 million tons this year, while the production target for 2014 is 10 million tons.

The project is likely to target carrageenan, which is used as a thickening and stabliising agent, mainly in food, as well as gel agar and alginate, which is used as a viscous substance for cosmetics and personal care products.

Canadian scientist eyes kelp production

The Indonesian investment initiative follows last year’s news that a Canadian scientist had been approached to grow rafts of seaweed for a laboratory to then use in moisturizers and face creams, because of the natural ingredient’s anti-aging properties.

Biologist Thierry Chopin works with the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, and has been growing kelp near Cooke Aquaculture fish farms in Charlotte County for Exsymol for the last few weeks.

Exsymol, a Monaco-based pharmaceutical company, initiated the deal after its research into cosmetic compounds showed there are bioactive compounds within seaweed cells that contain anti-aging ingredients that can soften skin and reverse the signs of aging.

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