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« on: September 30, 2008, 10:19:50 AM »
Spanish Processor Interested to Buy Seaweed from RP
Hispanagar S.A. of Burgos, Spain, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hydrocolloids, has, expressed interest in buying raw seaweed from the Philippines, mainly from Sitangkai, Tawi-tawi.

Jerry E. Pacturan, executive director of the Philippine Development Assistance Programme (PDAP) which is helping seaweed farmers in Sitangkai, has met with Hispanagar general manager Javier Fernandez and purchasing manager German Gonzalez in Spain who said that they would source seaweed from the country because of its high quality.

Pacturan said that Fernandez and Gonzalez are looking at the possibility of buying 120 metric tons of seaweed from Tawi-tawi farmers monthly.

“We also talked about the increasing prices of seaweeds, which is affecting processors worldwide. This is, however, an Asian phenomenon with Indonesia and Vietnam catching up with Philippine prices,” Pacturan said.

“They point out to China’s massive buying in the Philippines and other Asian countries as the reason behind the rise in the prices of seaweeds. But the level of interest to buy from us is still very high,” he added.

The Philippines is one of the world’s top producers of seaweed with the municipality of Sitangkai as the single biggest source, accounting for half of the country’s total production. Current annual production stands at an estimated volume of 120,000 metric tons valued at over $150 million or P6.6 billion from approximately 10,000 hectares (out of 60,000 hectares available).

Pacturan said companies like Hispanagar are turning to the Philippines as a major source because word is getting around that Philippine seaweed is best suited in the production of carrageenan.

Carrageenan is an important ingredient in a number of products. It is primarily used as a stabilizing, thickening, binding, and gelling agent. In dairy products, carrageenan is used in the manufacture of fruit yogurts, chocolate milk, ice cream, chocolate mousse, and cottage cheese.

It is also used in jellies, cake icings, syrups, gummy candies, as well as in concentrated fruit juices, soups, seasoning, sauces, and salad dressings.

Non-food applications include toothpaste, air fresheners, shampoos and cosmetics.

Dubbed as the Seaweed Capital of the Philippines, Sitangkai has been enjoying a comparative advantage over other areas in the country and is in a unique position to take advantage of the growing global demand for carrageenan.

Due to this growing demand, seaweed deliveries to France by the Sitangkai Exports Company, for instance, have increased from 80 metric tons a month to 120 metric tons, despite the doubling in the farmgate price per kilo of raw, dried seaweeds.

These developments augur well for the people of Sitangkai and the rest of Tawi-tawi who rely heavily on seaweeds for their livelihood. PDAP is supporting the growth of the Sitangkai seaweed industry through its program called Promoting Rural Industries and Market Enhancement, which is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency.

PDAP has also been instrumental in the formulation of the Sitangkai Seaweeds Industry Master Plan, a medium-term development plan that will increase the income of seaweed farmers and improve their standard of living.

The Master Plan calls for the increase in the seaweed production area in Sitangkai, from 2,500 hectares to as much as 10,000 hectares by 2010, increase in total seaweed production from 3,000 metric, tons a month to 27,000 metric tons and increase in average farm income from P60,000 to P300,000 a year.


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