The funding is being awarded through the £14m Marine Fund Scotland.
International demand for high-quality seaweed for use as a food source and health supplement is increasing and the funding would help it achieve its growth targets, Mara said.
Mara’s bespoke factory is a fully accredited sea-to-shelf seaweed production facility, processing seasonal seaweeds for the retail market with a fully traceable supply chain.
Direct from shore
Mara’s seaweed arrives at its factory direct from the shore. The bags of fresh seaweed are weighed and recorded, then sorted by hand and inspected for quality.
Moisture is removed from the seaweed through a drying process which preserves natural flavours and retains essential vitamins and minerals. Once dry, it’s milled and sieved into an easy-to-use format for delivering health benefits when cooking and seasoning. The white powder which forms on dried seaweed is natural mineral salts, packed with flavour.
After further tests for quality control the flakes are carefully packaged, ready for distribution to foodservice and retail customers.
Sustainable food systems
“Sustainability is the bedrock of Mara Seaweed and seaweed production can play a huge role in helping the world reach its sustainable food systems and carbon reduction targets," said Mara Seaweed chief executive Fiona Houston.
“Our involvement in events such as COP26 and Earthshot are exciting and significant to the seaweed industry. We are committed to spreading the message and opening people’s eyes to the sustainability benefits of seaweed production – it really is the future.
“We practice what we preach, and our aim is to be carbon negative within the next few years. This funding will play a significant role in helping us be more energy efficient and meeting that target, while creating jobs. The prominence of seaweed among well-known chefs, restaurants and in the media is leading to more people trying it, and the more people buy it, the more good we can do for the environment and people’s health.”
'More innovative products'
Scotland's rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “This funding will support Mara Seaweed in furthering their commitment of creating more innovative and exciting products. I am delighted these sustainably-sourced quality products are attracting the attention of consumers in the national and international market.
“Our support to the marine sector remains a priority and we are currently seeking a multi-year increase for the lost EU funding.
“With just over a week until COP26 this is another example of the innovative ways businesses in our valuable food and drink industry are adapting and playing an increasingly active role in addressing the challenges of climate change”
Seaweed is considered a sustainable high-nutrition food source with a host of health benefits that also has a positive impact on the atmosphere, sequestering significant quantities of carbon dioxide every year.