Top chef Jamie Oliver explains the nutritional properties of seaweed to the ITV-This Morning audience.

Top chef Jamie Oliver

Valerie Elliott reports in the Daily Mail that a study by the U.K. Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has proposed the establishment of a network of seaweed farms to satisfy growing demand for salty algae, which is plentiful along the U.K. coast.

Traditional seaweed products such as laverbread, a speciality in Wales, and dulse, a popular snack in Scotland, have been made on a relatively small scale for centuries. But thanks to the endorsement of celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal, seaweed is being rebranded as a healthy salt replacement and flavoring.

Some manufacturers already include it in pizza and pasta dishes, and it can be used to make salads. It is also found in health supplements and beauty products – and research is under way to use it in anti-cancer drugs and to help tackle obesity.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the Government agency behind the new report, says global seaweed production has increased from 10.5 million to 28.4 million tons since 2000. But no one knows exactly how much is available around the British coast, and this is seen as hampering expansion of the industry in the U.K.

Marine biologist Dr. Craig Rose, managing director of the specialist firm Seaweed and Co., said, “There is huge scope for seaweed production in this country as it’s local, natural and sustainable. But it needs to become mainstream with consumers. It’s like hummus. Years ago, very few people knew what it was – now it’s a big seller.

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