A range of natural flavoursome food products that rely neither on added salt or monosodium glutamate may soon be available thanks to a Cork-based company exploring the food potential of a major Irish natural resource – seaweed.
The company, CyberColloids of Carrigaline, Co. Cork is currently researching a suite of products that include mildly processed Irish seaweeds as flavoursome ingredients.
In Asia, seaweed already comprises up to 20% of the diet and is recognised not only for its nutritional benefits but also for its unique flavours.
“Irish seaweed is an underexploited, naturally nutritious food which has been labelled as a “super food” in the scientific literature because of its health giving properties,” said Ross Campbell of CyberColloids (above), at a regular meeting of the Sea Change Marine Food Advisory Group, set up by the Marine Institute in 2007 to address the coordinated approach to marine food research advocated under the Sea Change national marine research strategy, in Cork today (Monday 5th October). “Our company recognised a significant commercial opportunity to develop high-value food products from Irish seaweeds that were not only nutritious, but tasty and appealing to western consumers. To do this, we needed to engage in new research, particularly regarding our ability to assess and utilise the flavour components of edible Irish seaweeds.”
The research, which was led by Dr Sarah Hotchkiss of CyberColloids (left) with assistance from the marine research programme of the National Development Plan as part of the Sea Change Strategy developed and administered by the Marine Institute, included an assessment of market needs, the food processing methods currently available and the availability of Irish seaweeds as a commercial resource.
At the outset CyberColloids needed to build an understanding of the science behind flavour development and enhancement in seaweeds, to identify the components in seaweed that are important in taste and flavour and to understand how various cooking and processing methods could influence that flavour.
“We wanted to develop processing techniques for seaweed that were more in line with those found in the kitchen than those found in large scale industrial processes,” said Sarah. “To do this, we had to enlist the services of an international flavour house to develop a unique “flavour language” for edible seaweeds and to train us in the use of this new flavour language. As a result, CyberColloids now has an experienced panel of sensory analysts that is available to assess seaweed flavours and, to the best of our knowledge, we are the only company in Ireland to do so.”
As a result of this work, a range of concept products have been identified, developed and screened by CyberColloids for commercial potential. Three condiment products are currently being assessed by an Irish food company with a view to commercialisation later this year.
“Taste is still the key driver in the food industry,” said Ross Campbell, “and consumers will not compromise even for the most nutritious of foodstuffs.”
For further information, please contact;
Ross Campbell ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
or Sarah Hotchkiss ( email@example.com )
Phone: +353 21 437 5773
John Joyce - Marine Institute
( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Phone: + 353 (0) 87 2250871
Notes to Editor
CyberColloids has been working with seaweed-derived food ingredients for many years. The company has a strong understanding of how hydrocolloids from seaweed – such as agar, alginate and carrageenan behave in food systems and since 2005, has also developed expertise in the nutritional aspects of edible seaweeds and functional foods. The company was formed by a group of individuals who have all had many years experience in the industry and have now brought their expertise together to be able to offer a unique service to the hydrocolloids end user and producer. CyberColloids offers a range of services covering research, innovation, manufacturing excellence, outsourcing strategies, process and product development as well as sales and technical marketing support.
Sea Change – A Marine Knowledge, Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007 – 2013
In February 2007 the government adopted Sea Change: A Marine Knowledge Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007-2013. This strategy aims to drive the development of marine resources in Ireland in a manner that contributes to the knowledge economy.
The impacts which are targeted in the Sea Change Strategy include:
- Competiveness and sustainability;
- Economic stimulation and diversification;
- Research capacity increases;
- Regional development & North-South Co-operation;
- Public service improvements; and Improvements in environmental quality and management.
The world market for marine industries is valued at €869 billion (Douglas Westwood Ltd. 2005). Ireland’s current share of this is minuscule. However, significant opportunities exist for traditional marine sub-sectors (fishing, aquaculture, seaweed, shipping, tourism) that have a high export or internationally traded dimension. Sea Change targets sub-sectors which can increase their competiveness by capitalising on research, integrating new technology and developing innovative competitive production systems and service models to target niche, high-value and high growth markets. For further information on the aims, objectives and Research programmes in Sea Change please visit the Sea Change section on the Marine Institute Website at www.marine.ie
Sea Change Marine Food Advisory Group
The Sea Change Marine Advisory Group was set up by the Marine Institute in 2007 to address the coordinated approach to marine food research advocated under the Sea Change strategy.
It consists of over 40 members representing the various stakeholders involved in marine food research and development including BIM, DAFF, Marine Institute, Teagasc, DEHLG, IBEC, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Galway, Waterford Institute of Technology, University College Dublin, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Irish Fish Producers' Organisation, Irish Salmon Grower's Association, Brandon Products, Connemara Seafoods, Marine Harvest Ireland, Earagail Eisc Teoranta The group meets on an annual basis to advise and guide the Marine Institute on the implementation of the marine food research programmes in Sea Change (i.e. fisheries, aquaculture, seaweed, seafood processing and marine functional foods).
In addition, the meeting provides a forum for researchers to update members on the status of current marine food related research projects funded by the Marine Institute under the NDP Marine Research Sub-Programme 2007-2013, and for agency and institutional representatives to give updates on other current and planned research initiatives
One of the aims of the group is to ensure strong links are maintained between Sea Change and the Seafood Strategy (Cawley Report) Implementation Group, with reciprocal representation on the respective Steering Groups.