The future of sustainable food is slimy, sticky and growing beneath the surface of the Salish Sea.
At least, that’s what a Sidney-based company believes. Launched in 2019, Cascadia Seaweed has decided that along with growing and supplying Island-raised seaweed ingredients for a wide range of manufacturers, it will produce, brand and sell its own packaged seaweed food products.
“The best use of seaweed is as human food,” said CEO Mike Williamson. “As society looks for more sources of plant-based food … there’s a demand, and seaweed can fill that.”
Cascadia Seaweed grows sugar kelp at aquatic farms in Barkley Sound and has plans to expand. The company has partnered with Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Ltd. and has agreements with two First Nation communities in that area – the Huu-ay-aht and Uchucklesaht First Nations.
In January, Cascadia won the Ocean Products category at the Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards.
The passionate group of entrepreneurs noted marine-grown food meets at the intersection of sustainability and profit. As a regenerative crop, seaweed sequesters carbon and offers nutrients and habitats for ocean life.
“As it grows it improves the planet,” Williamson said.
Creating their own market-ready product will give the company more control with its long-term goal of evolving North American minds – and palettes – for seaweed consumption.
“We’ve tasted it at every stage. From raw, right out of the ocean, right to our prototypes,” Williamson said, adding the company’s seaweed food items will be minimally processed. Current product ideas include smoothie cubes, burgers and jerky-type snacks.
“We want to do breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks … on the go and at home,” he said. “We have an aggressive plan starting with some of the local Victoria and Vancouver grocery stores and expanding across British Columbia, down the I5 corridor and into California.”
Cascadia Seaweed said more information will come in September, when more food products and plans are finalized.
-with files from Wolfgang Depner