2 Apr 2020

Environmental impact and nutritional value of seaweed food products

ProSeaweed project

Our current eating habits have a negative impact on the climate and the planet. Businesses, governments and civil society organisations are looking for ways to tackle this problem and define the contours of a healthy and sustainable society. A significant step is to switch to diets that are more plant-based. Seaweed could be a promising ingredient for this, since it does not require additional nutrients or water to grow. The ProSeaweed programme investigates whether seaweed could be a healthy and sustainable food source for people and animals. Within this programme we will study the potential sustainability of Dutch seaweed food products.


Environmental performance of Dutch seaweed

In the ProSeaweed programme we will investigate the environmental performance of Dutch seaweed food products. This national research programme is exploring how seaweeds cultivated in the Netherlands can be used for different feed and food applications, including aspects such as safety, quality and sustainable use. The overall aim is to explore the opportunities to scale up seaweed cultivation in the Netherlands. Our focus will be on the analysis of the environmental footprint of seaweed food products, using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method. Results will be published in a scientific publication and the data obtained will be made publicly available in LCA databases such as Agri-footprint and the RIVM database. This will help businesses to identify and understand the environmental hotspots in the seaweed production chain. As the seaweed sector is in its infancy, one of the challenges is the availability of data and so we will work closely with stakeholders in the sector. In the project we will cooperate with Wageningen University, Wageningen Economic Research and Stichting Noordzeeboerderij.

Fair comparison: sustainability and nutrition

The environmental impacts of different food products are often compared on a per kilogram basis. However, different foods have different nutritional values, which means that comparisons of environmental impacts per kilogram of product are usually not a meaningful basis for determining the sustainability of different foods. In this study, therefore, we will analyse both the environmental impact and the nutritional value of seaweed. We will use Optimeal to explore how seaweed products perform on sustainability and health criteria. This will help to determine whether seaweed has the right balance between the amount of nutrients and the environmental impact and is a future-proof food product.

More about Optimeal

Optimeal is an optimisation tool that takes both the environmental impact and the nutritional value of foods into account. Optimeal contains reliable data on the nutritional properties of foods and on their environmental impacts, such as carbon footprint, land use and depletion of fossil fuels. Learn more about Optimeal.

More information

If you are interested in this project or have any questions about life cycle assessment of food products or Optimeal,
please contact Freija van Holsteijn at freija@blonksustainability.nl or call +31 (0)182 579970.

Freija van Holsteijn
Consultant | Blonk Consultants

Freija is part of our consultants team. She studied Animal Sciences at Wageningen University and Research, where she became very increasingly concerned by the environmental impacts of our food production system.