Secrets of the sea – creating innovative products which nourish body and soul

WHEN WE THINK of seaweed, many of us conjure up an image of different varieties of plants swaying back and forth in the water, as the waves gently lap onto the beach. We don’t often think of seaweed as a single food item on a dinner plate or an ingredient which can add flavour to both savoury and sweet foods.

Despite being a staple food in our ancestors’ diet, the art of harvesting and preparing seaweed to eat has been forgotten over the years.

But a small company in Fife has taken a traditional occupation and reinvented it for the modern world.

Mara Seaweed has breathed new life into a forgotten natural superfood and reintroduced it to Scotland and the world. Since 2011, the team has collected and harvested by hand a range of seaweed from the crystal-clear waters around the East Neuk of Fife, transforming the humble sea plant into a beautiful range of flavour enhancing products.

The founders have spent the last decade pioneering developments in harvesting, sourcing and processing seaweed. And in 2021, QMU graduate, Emma Lamb, joined the growing team as product development technologist.

With a BSc (Hons) Nutrition and Food Science from QMU, Emma seemed a perfect fit to support Mara’s product and market development. In her final year at QMU, she had focused her honour’s project on Mara Seaweed, developing an energy gel for sports nutrition which incorporated seaweed powder. She went on to secure summer work with the company which led to a full-time role, just three months after graduating. She
is now one of seaweed’s biggest fans.

Discussing the nutritional qualities of this hidden gem, Emma explained: “Seaweed contains up to 85% less sodium than table salt. It gets its salty flavour from minerals like potassium and magnesium, making it a healthy salt alternative. It also contains a unique combination of all 56 vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and trace elements essential for human health, absorbed directly from sunlight and the ocean: so, it’s a truly natural, pure superfood. When harvested and dried, the variety of seaweed growing naturally on our shores also produces a surprising array of complex flavours.”

Discussing her journey with the company, Emma said: “It has been exciting to be part of a growing company which has gained international success and is now the UK’s most innovative seaweed brand. The team at Mara has incredible expertise in nutrition and flavour, and my job involves turning our ideas into reality through the development of new products.” Emma continued: “There is so much to learn at Mara and I get to work with colleagues across the range of specialisms including harvesting, processing and marketing.

"Mara Seaweed’s mission is to nourish body and soul by harnessing goodness from the sea and bringing it directly into people’s kitchen. I love working with sustainable food ingredients which are healthy and nutritious, identifying gaps in the market and bringing new products to the marketplace."

Mara’s online shop offers an intriguing range of seaweed flavourings. Emma explained:

"Different varieties of seaweed produce different flavours. It’s great to work with the raw ingredients to identify their impact on taste and texture and to see how well they work when used in combination with different foods."

“Our range of seasonings include dulse, kombu and sugar kelp flakes, whole leaf seaweeds such as kombu seaweed strips, as well as smoked and powdered products, which are both flavoursome and nutritious, particularly when added to different foods like sauces, dips, meats and cakes. Every day we focus on creative ways of delivering the health benefits of seaweed in a delicious and easy to use format, so we sell our
flavour enhancers in a variety of shakers, tubs and packets.”

Emma concluded: “As our product range and brand grow, we see a rise in the number of people using our natural flavour enhancers as part of their essential everyday nutrition. It’s exhilarating to play a part in making the health benefits of seaweed accessible to a wider audience.”

You can find out more about Mara Seaweed


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