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Seaweed Products Company AlgAran Plans to Enter Japan

Based in Kilcar, Co Donegal, AlgAran produces a range of organic seaweed products. Italian algologist Rosaria Piseri founded the company further to moving in 2001 to the Aran Islands from Milan where she had been running a seaweed company.

She relocated to Donegal in 2004 and started AlgAran that year, initially on her own. She was then joined by Micheal McCloskey, a local seaweed harvester who made his premises available to set up offices and a factory.

"It was just the two of us, then we started employing people part-time and now we have three employees full-time and we are considering hiring two more in the future. Michael harvests and processes the seaweeds and I look after the final products and the rest of the business," Piseri explains.

Piseri says that AlgAran has been growing slowly but steadily and the business has been built up on the back of the huge natural resource that the west coast of Donegal can offer. "We believe that AlgAran has a great potential. We process a naturally sourced raw material, for which there is a big demand in the world at the moment." Indeed exports are a major part of the company's income and they are continuing to grow. Must of AlgAran's future focus will be on the Japanese market. "In the seaweed sector, the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan created a lot of demand in the world and this situation helped a lot of seaweed companies in Europe," explains Piseri.

"In 2012 we hosted a graduate in food technology, partially funded by InterTradeIreland's Fusion programme. This gave us the opportunity to create new foods with seaweed, which have been successful so far. With the new production line approved and tested, we felt we were ready to bring it to Japan, where we are going to sign a distribution agreement this month [March]."

AlgAran doesn't believe that bulk sales of seaweed are the future for any seaweed company, continues Piseri. "Therefore are looking to export ready-made products instead and we are succeeding in that. This is the direction we want the company to take, so that we don't exploit the natural resource and we can grow our production as big as we want. "Our aim is to keep the control of our business so that we will be able to guarantee good quality products to our customers all the time. As things are going now, the demand is growing so fast that we need other small local businesses to produce part of our range for us and we believe that this might be the way to go.

"Our challenge for the future is to create more and more organic products with seaweed, so that people can enjoy them and keep healthy. From food to natural cosmetics, we will work on new creations with higher and higher quality."

AlgAran was a finalist in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2013.

Source: Business and Leardership - Seaweed Products Company AlgAran Plans to Enter Japan