Date of Award
© 2020 Bailey Moritz
Professional Science Master's (PSM) In Ocean Food Systems
Adam St. Gelais
Seaweed aquaculture has been a successful supplemental livelihood in coastal communities worldwide, creating new income opportunities for women in particular. In most cases, raw or dried carrageenan-producing seaweed is sold into supply chains without local value addition taking place. Upgrading value chains can come in the form of new products, differentiation from existing products through marketing, or breaking into new markets. The research investigates the local market potential for value-added Belizean Eucheuma seaweed products and offers insights into a pathway forward for the Belize Women’s Seaweed Farming Association (BWSFA) to take advantage of these opportunities at an early stage of their development. Case studies of similar value-adding entities were examined for transferable lessons. Community members, tourists, and local spas were surveyed about their interest in seaweed-based products. In addition to continually making improvements on the farm level to meet the need for consistent, quality seaweed sourcing, spas showed the most potential for engagement with value-added products. Interest in seaweed ecotourism exists for short excursions, but competition is high in Placencia. Neither pathway would fully allow members of the BWSFA to move away from inconsistent, seasonal tourism income; therefore, export markets may need to be identified as early as possible. Acceptability of seaweed products is high in the local community, but products are purchased infrequently. Development of powder, which saw advantages over gel, may offer the best initial value-added product while collaboration and partnerships are explored for more complex products. Educational efforts and media outreach around the uses and benefits of Eucheuma could increase consumers’ willingness to pay for value-added products.
Moritz, Bailey. 2020. Building value through innovative Eucheuma spp. product development: A case study with the Belize Women's Seaweed Farming Association. Graduate Program in Ocean Foods Systems, University of New England, Maine, USA