An award-winning seaweed processor in the Outer Hebrides is investing in a new factory which will support the creation of jobs and increase international sales.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has awarded funding of £659,000 to the Hebridean Seaweed Company Ltd which is located at Arnish Point near Stornoway in the Isle of Lewis.
The company has started constructing a new facility at as part of a £7m expansion project and once completed it is expected to double the number of employees to 26.
The business already supplies markets around the world and new jobs will be created to support the growing international demand for its products.
Set-up by Martin Macleod and Malcolm Macrae in 2006, the company harvests Ascophyllum nodosum – better known as knotted wrack which is completely sustainable and organic.
Harvesting takes place all year round with cutting carried out manually and mechanically using a fleet of seaweed harvesting boats. The raw seaweed is gently dried in a tunnel drier and then milled to the customer’s specification.
Increasing demand for seaweed stretches across many sectors of the food industry. Products made by Hebridean Seaweed Company are also used for animal feed supplement, soil enhancement, alginate, cosmetics and nutraceutical industries
Hebridean Seaweed is the largest industrial seaweed processor in the UK and in December last year, the expansion project was awarded £800,000 from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the construction of the new factory.
The company plans to form a research and development department at the new facility which will be staffed by a highly skilled workforce developing innovation in the seaweed industry.
The main products produced by Hebridean Seaweed are dried asco for human and animal food, and seaweed extract in liquid and powder form.
Managing Director, Martin Macleod, said: “The Outer Hebrides has vast amounts of seaweed and we only use a percentage of it and in close co-operation with the Crown Estate and other bodies.
“We look forward to growing the business from our Isle of Lewis base substantially in the coming months and years. We are delighted that HIE is supporting us in our venture and we look forward to working with them as we grow the business.”