If we talk about Japan, South Korea, China, and other Asian countries, we usually think about all sorts of things that are not a Western custom. Eating seaweed is definitively one of them. These countries have been using it as a food for ages and continue to do so.
Long forgotten in the Western world, seaweed is starting to make it to the food industry as Westerners now see the benefits it has for their health.
However, during the last years, western consumers have started to look past the slimy appearance and texture of seaweed. In fact, Dutch researchers found that people are more likely to buy a product if it says seaweed on the wrappers.
According to researchers, consumers were convinced that seaweed wrappers were tasty, convenient, and healthier but were more hesitant when it came to 100% seaweed. Also, consumers believe that seaweed is a more eco-friendly option.
But this is not a new trend. According to Innova Market Insights, sea vegetables saw a 21% growth in new product launches from 2012-2016. These types of foods are well-positioned to take the place of current trends including exotic ingredients and plant-based diets.
The reason why seaweed is considered eco-friendly is that it is carbon negative; it absorbs the carbon dioxide from the sea. As it is increasingly growing in popularity in Europe, it might find some troubles in the American cuisine due to the Western-style foods.
It might take some time before rocketing in sales in North America. However, this is very likely to happen given the nutritional value of seaweed. The market research organization also predicts a great future for seaweed.