A Spain-based company is eyeing the importation of 120 metric tons (MT) monthly of raw seaweed supply from the Philippines under an ongoing negotiation with the Philippine Development Assistance Program (PDAP).
Hispanagar S.A. of Burgon, Spain, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hydrocolloids has shown intention to import seaweeds particularly from Sitangkai, Tawi Tawi which has been establishing a good reputation for the production of high-quality seaweeds.
“Companies like Hispanagar are turning to the Philippines as a major source because word is getting around that Philippine seaweeds are best suited in the production of carageenan,” said PDAP Executive Director Jerry E. Pacturan said in a statement.
Pacturan met last month with Hispanagar General Manager Javier Fernandez and Purchasing Manager German Gonzalez on the company’s potential importation from Sitangkai, a major seaweed producer in the country, accounting for 50 percent of total production.
While concerned about the rising price of seaweeds even from the Philippines, PDAP stressed that this spiraling of seaweed price occurs in any other seaweed source in Asia including Indonesia and Vietnam.
PDAP has been aiding Sitangkai in increasing its seaweed production from the present 2,500 hectares to 10,000 hectares by 2010 under a master plan. This will raise its production from 3,000 metric tons (MT) monthly to 27,000 MT.
It will raise average farm income of seaweed farmers from P60,000 to P300,000 a year.
Aside from expanding production, a major concern for Sitangkai seaweed industry is the expansion on market which is the focus of PDAP’s “Promoting Rural Industries and Market Enhancement Program.”
The expansion of its market in Spain follows Sitangkai’s market expansion in France. It has raised its export to France through the Sitangkai Export Company from 80 metric tons (MT) monthly to 120 MT. This is despite around 100 percent increase in raw dried seaweed farmgate price.
Sitangkai has just received a P5 million credit from the Development Bank of the Philippines to be able to meet this market expansion.
Seaweed is a raw material used for producing carageenan—a semi-processed ingredient for producing consumer products like shampoo, toothpaste, gel; as gelling or binding agent for processed meat, ice cream, gums; and as coating for medicine capsules or tablets.
It is estimated that the Philippines produces an average of 120,000 MT of seaweeds yearly valued at more than $ 150 million.