Port Authority of Thailand,
Gracilaria is the raw material for the agar industry world-wide. Chile is the largest producer of Gracilaria and Japan is the largest producer of agar. World agar production is currently estimated at 10,000 tonnes per annum, about half of which is from Gracilaria. Japan is the largest producer and consumer of agar. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are major importers of agar as shortages of raw materials and technological expertise are a constraint to agar production in these countries. Vietnam can produce a large quantity of seaweeds (Gracilaria) and has an agar industry, but agar quality is not up to standard. As the price of Gracilaria increased year after year, agar also became expensive, both commercial and bacterial grade. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, which are top agar producers, labour and land costs were the reason for the increasing the price of agar. These countries switched production to other Asian countries to increase profits.
The annual world production of agar stands at between 7 and 10,000 tonnes per annum, approximately half of which was produced from Gracilaria and the remainder came mainly from Gelidium (Coppen, 1989). The world agar industry basically uses the following seaweeds :
Different species of Gelidium harvested mainly in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Japan, Korea, Mexico, France, USA, People's Republic of China, Chile and South Africa.
Gracilaria of different species harvested in Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines, People's Republic of China (including Taiwan Province), India and Sri Lanka.
Pterocladia capillace from Azores (Portugal) and Pterocladia lucida from New Zealand.
Gelidiella from Egypt, Madagascar and India.
Other seaweeds used include: Ahpheltia plicata from North Japan and the Sakhalin Islands; Acanthopheltis japonica, Ceramiun hypnaeordes and Ceranium boydenii (Armisen and Galatas, 1987). A country breakdown of world agar production is given in Table 1.
Japan is the largest producer of agar in the world and, in 1987, Japan exported 3,729 tonnes of agar to the countries shown in Table 2.
Table 1 World production of agar, 1984 (tonnes).
Source: Coppen, 1989
Table 2: Japanese agar exports, 1987.
Source: Coppen, 1989
Japan is highly dependent on imported raw material for its agar production and accounts for most of the world trade in agarophytes (Table 3). The total raw material requirement to produce 7,000 tonnes of agar is around 35,000 tonnes of seaweed, which means that almost a third of the seaweed used enters world trade. The dominant position of Chile as a supplier of Gracilaria means mat, including their own domestic production of agar, they are the world's largest source of Gracilaria derived agar. Chilean sources estimated the 1985 harvest to be almost 16,000 tonnes (dry weight). The majority of this was collected from the wild but 400 tonnes was cultivated.
The need for greater quantities of agarophytes has encouraged Gracilaria cultivation. Seaweed cultivation has only had limited success, however, and there are still problems to be solved before it can be generally adopted. At present, cultivation is used for industrial purposes in the People's Republic of China and its Taiwan Province and it is now being initiated in Chile.(Armisen and Galastas, 1987).
The production, utilisation and international trade of commercial seaweeds and seaweed products are important for the countries of Asia-Pacific, especially Gracilaria and agar. In the case of Gracilaria the problem is more difficult to solve. The enzymatic hydrolysis of agar occurs spontaneously even at relatively low moisture contents, but at variable rates depending on the Gracilaria species and its origin.
Table 3 Agarophyte (Gracilaria) imports to Japan (tonnes).
Source: Coppen, 1989
Gracilaria harvested in India, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Brazil and generally in warm waters, contains an agar less resistant to enzymatic hydrolysis than the Chilean Gracilaria which is the most stable one known. Nevertheless, the stability of agar contained in Gracilaria is less than that of Gelidium.
The world production of red seaweeds was 1,256,918 metric tonnes in 1992 (Table 4).
Table 4: World production of red seaweeds in 1992.
Source: FAO Yearbook of Fishery Statistics, 1992
Marketing of industrial agar is done through trading companies operating from Japan, Europe or the United States, where the most important trading companies are located in the area close to New York. There are, however, different standard specifications as shown in Table 5.
Table 5: Standard specifications of agar for FCC, USP, EEC and FAO
|Microbial limit, Salmonella||-||*||-||-|
|Moisture, % max.||20||20||20||20|
|Ash, % max.||6.5||6.5||6.5||6.5|
|Acid-in solution ash, % max.||0.5||0.5||0.5||0.5|
|Foreign organic matter, % max.||-||1.0||-||1.0|
|Insoluble matter, % max.||1.0||1.0||1.0||-|
|Arsenic, ppm max.||3||3||-||3|
|Lead, ppm max.||10||10||-||10|
|Heavy metals(as Pb),ppm max.||10||40||-||40|
|Foreign starch and dextrins||*||*||*||*|
|Gelatin and other proteins||*||*||*||*|
|Water absorption, ml max. per 5.0g agar||75||75||75||75|
Source: Tengtein Y.,and Wattanaoran P., 1989
FCC - Food Chemicals Codex
USP - The United States Pharmacopoeia
EEC - European Economic Countries
FAO - Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,
It is difficult to get an idea of the prices of commercial agar because the usual trade statistics list agars with different specifications and applications and therefore with different prices, as shown in Tables 6 and 7.
Table 6: Agar Imported and Exported by Japan in 1986 (January - October).
|Exports||Quantities (tonnes)||Value (Yen)|
Exchange rate: 1 US$ = 154.23 Yen
Source : Armisen and Galatas, 1987
Table 7: Japanese export/ import, average price for agar in 1986.
|Agar, natural, strip||21.07|
|Agar, natural, square||45.61|
|Agar, Industrial, powder||17.30|
|Agar, natural, strip||13.38|
|Agar, industrial, powder||21.40|
Exchange rate: 1 US$ = 154.23 Yen
Source : Armisen and Galatas, 1987
The major parameters of the Japanese Specifications of Processing agar to show the different of qualities of agar, is shown in Table 8. Table 9 shows the chemical composition of Gracilaria.
Table 8: Major parameters of the Japanese Specifications of Processing Agar.
|Gel Strength (gm cm-1)||600 or more||350 or more||250 or more||150 or more|
|Water content||22% or less||22% or less||22% or less||22% or less|
|Crude protein content||1.5% or less||1.5% or less||2% or less||3% or less|
|Solids insoluble in hot water||0.5 or less||2% or less||3% or less||4% or less|
|Crude ash content||4% or less||4% or less||4% or less||4% or less|
Table 9: Chemical composition (%) of Gracilaria.
|Item||Content in 100 gram|
|Crude protein (g)||2.3|
Source: Arasaki, S. and Arasaki, T. 1983
The Asian nations which would participate in the expansion of Gracilaria production and other agar-bearing seaweeds are Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Vietnam can produce a great quantity of Gracilaria and agar, but they are still problems reaching quality standards for agar in the world market. Vietnam will be developing their Gracilaria production and processing in the near future. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are now looking for joint ventures in other Asian countries to transfer funding and technology for the agar industry because the labour and land costs in their countries were very high. Vietnam would be especially good for investment because of their high production of Gracilaria.
Exporters of seaweed and seaweed products
Marcel Trading Corp., P O Box 241, Manila, Philippines.
Arasaki, S. and Arasaki, T. 1983. Vegetables from the sea to help you look and feel better. Japan Publications Tokyo.
Armisen, R. and Galatas, F. 1987. Production, properties and uses of agar. In: M°Hugh, D. J. Production and utilisation-of production from commercial seaweeds. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper.
Chandrkrachang, S. and Chinadit, U. 1988. A New Approach to Seaweed Production and Processing. INFOFISH International No.4/88.
Coppen, J. J. W. 1989. International Trade in Agar for countries in the Bay of Bengal Region . Songkhla Thailand 23–27 October 1989 BOBP/REP/45
International Trade Centre UNCTAD/GATT 1981. Pilot Survey of the World Seaweed Industry and Trade. Geneva, Switzerland:(l 11 Page)
FAO, 1992. Yearbook of Fishery Statistic's, 1992. FAO,Rome.
Lima Dos Sandos, C. A., Roessink, G. L., Richards-Rajadural, P. L., Taylor, C. T. and Kano, I. 1988. Seaweed processing and marketing in Asia/Pacific. Working paper prepared for the :Seventh Session of the IPFC Working Party of Experts on Aquaculture (Bangkok, Thailand, 1–6 August 1988) UNDP/FAO project RAS/84/027.
Suo, R. Y. and Qingyin (1992). Laminaria Culture in China. INFOFISH International No./92
Tangtein, Y. and Wattanaoran P.(1989) “Standard specifications of agar” in Seaweed production and processing Biopolymer Research Unit Srinakarinwirot University Bangkok Thailand (in Thai).
Chief Technical Adviser, Seaweed Production Development Project,
The estimated income level of coastal households in Sorsogon, which is situated approximately 600 km south of Manila, ranges from 2,000 to 3,560 Pesos2 per month. About 39% of the population are engaged in fishing as their main source of income. Studies in coastal areas of Sorsogon have revealed that the area is rich in Gracilaria resources, both in quality and quantity. Three types of areas with their specific environmental conditions were found for Gracilaria farming purposes: (i) open sea coralline flats with high salinity; (ii) bays along the coast with sandy-muddy substrates and high salinity; and (iii) brackishwater ponds with muddy substrates and low salinity. Three methods of farming have been developed, namely: fixed bottom line; floating raft line; and pond culture. Simple family-sized processing technology to produce one kg per day of food agar powder was also developed. Using the technologies developed, coastal communities have initiated Gracilaria farming and processing activities, with local Government support, as an alternative livelihood. The unit cost to produce one kg of dried Gracilaria was estimated at 3.20 Pesos per kg with a selling price of between 6.00 to 10.00 Pesos, while the unit cost to produce one kg of agar powder was estimated at 406.20 Pesos with the selling price of between 750.00 and 1,000 Pesos. Previously, apart from gathering Gracilaria from natural beds and selling it to buyers from Manila, the potential of farming and processing Gracilaria had not been fully realised.
1 Correspondence: Pt. Puteri Cendana Prima, Intergraded Shrimp Aquaculture Industry Jl Sumatra 136, Surabaya 60281, Indonesia.
2 1 US$ = 25 Pesos
The Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004) aimed to develop farming and processing technologies of species of seaweeds other than Eucheuma. The seaweed Gracilaria is one of the major sources of raw material for the manufacture of agar. It is used in crude form by the food processing industry, while more sophisticated forms are utilised in pharmaceutical and biomedical applications.
One of the main objectives of the project was to improve the socio-economic conditions of fishing communities dependent on coastal fisheries for livelihood, by developing alternative employment and income opportunities through an extended and diversified seaweed farming and processing industry.
The project is financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture (BFAR/DA) is the Government counterpart agency.
2. COMMUNITY BASED GRACILARIA PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGIES
2.1 Gracilaria resources
Studies have revealed that Sorsogon, which is situated approximately 600 km south of Manila (Figure 1), is rich in Gracilaria resources both in quantity and quality (Liana, 1992; 1994). Naturally rich Gracilaria beds have been found both on the east coast and in Sorsogon Bay, most notably in Magallanes where approximately six hectares have been reserved for conservation purposes (Nyan Taw, 1993c).
Taxonomic studies of Gracilaria species from Sorsogon, revealed eleven species of which five have been previously unrecorded in Filipino waters (Trono, 1994). One Gracilaria species appears to be unknown and has yet to be described and named, while three others require verification. Five Gracilaria species were found to have good potential for farming purposes in Sorsogon and other parts of the Philippines (Nyan Taw, 1993a; 1993b; 1994a), namely: G. firma; G. fastigiata; G. changii; G. heteroclada; and G. tenuistipitata var liui.
Generally, three types of areas with specific environmental conditions can be classified for farming purposes (Nyan Taw, 1994a):
|Open sea||Open sea coralline flats protected by reef breakers at the fringes of the coast. High salinity (33–35 ppt), clear water with firm coralline substrate.|
|Bays||Protected bays and mangrove channels along the coastline, channels within coastal mangrove islands and river estuaries with little freshwater influence. High salinity (25–35 ppt), semi-clear water with sandy-mud substrate.|
|Brackishwater ponds||Unused fish ponds, supply/drainage canals of fish ponds or mangrove ponds. Low salinity (10–25 ppt), turbid water with muddy substrate.|
Three methods of farming have been developed, namely: fixed bottom line, floating raft line and pond culture (monoculture and polyculture) using the five identified species in their preferred area and environment. Five demonstration farms were in operation utilising the areas identified and the methods developed: three on the East Coast (Prieto Diez, Gubat and Bulusan) and two in Sorsogon Bay (Juban and Magallanes).
The average daily growth rate recorded over 45 to 50 days of culture, at optimum environmental conditions, for the five Gracilaria species were as follows: G. changii = 9.0%; G. firma - 8.7%; G. fastigiata = 9.0%; and G. heteroclada/ G. tenuistipitata = 6.2%. Growth rates compare favourably with the estimated average daily growth for Eucheuma (5%) in commercial farming (Trono et al. 1988). Generally, based on this daily growth rate and production from line farming trials, a production of 4.0 tonnes of (dried) seaweed can be expected from a one hectare area after 45 to 50 days of culture in an optimum environment. A maximum production of 12.0 tonnes of dried seaweed can be obtained from one hectare of pond with monoculture.
Figure 1: Eastern Sorsogon and Sorsogon Bay, Philippines.
2.3 Processing and agar quality
The agar quality (average gel strength) of the five Gracilaria species are: G. changii = 963 g/cm2 ; G. firma = 765 g/cm ; G.fastigiata = 890 g/cm2; G. heteroclada = 968 g/cm2; and G. tenuistipitata = 433 g/cm2 (Santos, 1993). In terms of gel strength, the quality of Gracilaria from Sorsogon can be considered very good. Quality standards for bacteriological media and plant tissue culture medium (bacto-agar), are set at 600–800 g/cm2 for gel strength. For agarose, a gel strength of 800–1,000 g/cm2 is required (Anonymous, 1990).
Village level processing plants utilising available local materials have been developed (Whitaker, 1994; Pena, 1994). Training programmes, attended by members of co-operatives from different baranggays, municipal agriculture officers and academe from Sorsogon, were conducted at the Field laboratory in Cabid-an, Sorsogon. With some basic village level processing facilities provided by the project, three co-operatives started operating. These co-operatives were able to come-up with the required counterpart facilities and operational expenses and are now acting as model village-level processing plants in their respective areas. The small scale agar production flow diagram is in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Small scale agar production flow diagram (from de la Pena, 1994).
With additional funds from UNDP, DA-BFAR and contributions from the local government of Sorsogon, a prototype processing plant to produce five tonnes of food agar annually was completed in December 1994.
3.1 Coastal communities of Sorsogon
A comprehensive benchmark study on socio-economic aspects of the project areas (Prieto Diaz, Bagacay, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Santa Magdalena and Matnog at East coast of Sosorgon and Castilla, Juban and Magallanes at Sorsogon Bay) has been completed (Tagarino, 1992). The assessment was carried out in 89 out of the 169 coastal communities in six municipalities in Eastern Sorsogon, namely: Barcelona, Bulusan, Gubat, Matnog, Prieto Diaz and Sta. Magdalena. There were at least 13,905 households in these areas, with an average size of 5.2 persons per household. There were at least 4,528 fishermen of which 2,908 were full-time fishermen, who were equipped with a total of 3,352 fishing boats. About 7.0% of the boats were motorised. The estimated income level of the coastal households in the area ranged from 2,006 to 3,556 Pesos per month. About 75% of their income was derived from primary sources. About 39% of the population were engaged in fishing as their main source of income. The fishermen normally used conventional fishing methods but other methods, such dynamite/cyanide fishing, were also known to be common in the area. About 50–70 % of the households had temporary housing with an average floor area of 22 to 28 m2 . Only a few of the households (about 5–15 %) owned basic household appliances such as stoves, refrigerators or sewing machines. A majority of the households (more than 50%) did not own basic household production tools and implements.
3.2 Economics of Gracilaria farming and processing for food agar
In Sorsogon, seaweed farmers have initiated farming and production of Gracilaria in the areas identified and using methods disseminated by the project. An economically viable farm size for a farming/ fishing family (a family of four to five) was calculated to be one hectare (Orogo, 1994b). The cost of production at a farm varies depending on the locality and availability of farm input. Major production costs were seedlings, stakes and lines. The operational costs would be much reduced if the seedlings were collected by the farmer's family to start the operation. The unit cost of production would be less from year two onwards. A family-sized processing plant that can produce one kg of food agar per day (288 kg/year) is an ideal size. However, with extra help, production can be increased to a maximum of 3 kg/day using the same facilities with additional minor equipment. Orogo, (1994b) studied the economics of a simple seaweed farming and processing farm (Table 1).
Table 1: Simple economics of Gracilaria farm and processing plant (Year 1).
|Type/size of operation||Family type 1 ha farm||Family type plant|
|Method||Fixed bottom line 4 crops||Dewatering by press|
|Production per year||16,000 kg (dried)||288 kg agar powder|
|Sales income||160,000 Pesos (10.00 Pesos/kg)||288,000 Pesos (1,000 Pesos/kg)|
|Cost of production||51,000 Pesos||117,000 Pesos|
|Unit cost||3.2 Pesos/kg||406.2 Pesos/kg|
|Net income||109,000 Pesos/year (9,083 Pesos/month)||171,000 Pesos/year (14,250 Pesos/month)|
3.3 Co-operatives and Marketing
A number of community-based groups/ co-operatives have been organised in the project area (Orogo, 1994a). These co-operatives/ associations have attained strong marketing and communication linkages and have formed the Sorsogon Federation of Seaweeds and Aqua-based Co-operatives. The co-operatives deposited 50,000 Pesos with the Philippine National Bank for safekeeping and registration purposes with the Co-operative Development Authority. Sorsogon Marine Product Development Co-operative, Gubat was a recipient of a 50,000 Pesos grant from the local government to develop 24 hectares of ponds for Gracilaria farming.
The co-operatives and associations from the east coast and Sorsogon bay had set target activities for expansion of at least 35 hectares pond culture. The farmer/ fishermen families were processing Gracilaria seaweed into gulaman and making local jelly sweets for sale within their villages to acquire additional income for the family.
Aside from pre-organisational and pre-membership training for newly organised co-operatives, selected co-operative officers were sent to a number of National Seminars and Workshops organised by CDA. The major constraint reported by the seaweed farmers/ gatherers in Sorsogon is the marketing of dried seaweeds. The seaweeds could be processed into a dried gulaman bar or powdered agar, a more durable form of product, which would be easier to market.
The volume of Gracilaria being harvested from the wild and traded within the project area was about 67.5 tonnes/year. The range of prices of the Gracilaria being traded between gatherers and middlemen was from 3.0 to 10 Pesos per kg (dried) depending on the trading level of middlemen (Guanio, 1994). It is apparent that there is a ready market for Gracilaria, but the problem is the low price the gatherers/farmers were obtaining. A federation of co-operatives are now being formed to cope with this situation.
According to studies by Guanio, 1994, the Philippines has imported approximately 20 tonnes of bacto-agar and 185 tonnes per annum since 1986. There are ten large food processing companies in the Philippines which use agar as an ingredient in their products. This indicates that there is a ready domestic market for food and bacto agar. According the Philippine Seaplant Corporation which exports dried Gracilaria, the price received varied between US $ 300 to 400 per tonne depending on the quality.
The farming and processing technology developed has also been utilised by co-operators (NGOs) from other regions of the Philippines such as: Butuan and Cagayun in Mindanao. In Quezon, commercial gathering from the wild and farming in ponds in areas identified by the project, is developing rapidly. The dried seaweeds are exported directly to Taiwan and other countries. The project also assisted farmers/ fishermen from Bataan, Quezon, Batagas and Binmaley in Pagasinan on Gracilaria farming and processing technology.
I sincerely wish to thank the following: Mr F. Taclan, Project Leader and technicians from Sorsogon for their assistance; Mr G. L. Morales (National Project Director), Ms. Purita Dela Pena (National Project Coordinator) and members of BFAR staff; and Governor Juan G. Frivaldo of Sorsogon Province for their continued support throughout the project period. The wholehearted support of Mr Kevin Mc Grath, Resident Representative UNDP Manila, Mr. Peer Hijmans, FAOR Manila and Mr A. P. Isarankura, FAO HQ is also highly appreciated.
Anonymous, 1990. Taiyo-agar, Taiyo-agarose catalogue of products. Shimizu Shokuhin Kaisha, Ltd. Irifune-cho Shimizu City, Japan.
de la Pena, P. O. 1994. A guide to agar processing and quality of Gracilaria species. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 20.
Guanio, L. V. 1994. The marketing of Gracilaria seaweeds and its products. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 15.
Llana, M. E. G. 1992. Preliminary assessment of seaweeds and associated invertebrates in Eastern Sorsogon, the Philippines. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 01.
Llana, M. E. G. 1994. The ecology of Gracilaria sites in Sorsogon province, Philippines. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 19.
Nyan Taw, 1993a. Seaweed Gracilaria farming trials in Sorsogon. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 09.
Nyan Taw, 1993b. Manual on seaweed Gracilaria farming. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 10 (Field Document 03/93).
Nyan Taw, 1993c. A guide for Gracilaria (seaweed) resources management in Sorsogon, the Philippines. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 12.
Nyan Taw, 1994a Guide on the farming of seaweed Gracilaria species. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 17.
Nyan Taw, 1994b Development of seaweed culture in the Philippines. FAO Aquaculture Newsletter (FAN). Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service Fisheries Department. FAO Rome, August 1994, Number 7.
Orogo, V. P. 1994a. Management strategies towards a viable seaweed co-operative enterprise in Sorsogon, the Philippines. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 16.
Orogo, V. P. 1994b. The viability of establishing a one hectare co-operative seaweed farm. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 18.
Santos, G. A. 1993. The processing of Gracilaria. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 08.
Tagarino, R. N. 1992. Socio-economic profile of coastal communities in Eastern Sorsogon, the Philippines. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 04.
Trono Jr., Gavino C. & Edna T. Ganzon-Fortes 1988 Philippines seaweeds. Technology and Livelihood Resource Center, National Book Store, Inc., Metro Manila, Philippines. 330 pp.
Trono Jr., Gavino C. 1994. The taxonomy of the genus Gracilaria in Sorsogon, the Philippines. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 13
Whitaker, John 1994 Manual on small-scale Gracilaria Processing. Seaweed Production Development Project (PHI/89/004 BFAR/UNDP/FAO). Philippines Field Document 14.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In 1992, the total world production of agar was estimated at 7–10,000 tonnes, half of which originated in Japan and the Republic of Korea. Major agar producing countries were Japan, Spain, Chile and the Republic of Korea and several of the leading agar producers exported most of their production. Emerging producers in the Asia- Pacific region were Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Today, the agar industry probably represents a market value well in excess of US $ 200 million and agarophytes command a higher price than other colloid-bearing seaweeds. An estimated 10,000 tonnes of raw agar and 3,500 tonnes of final product enter the world market each year. The raw material goes principally to Japan, which is also the main exporter of the final product.
Japan is the main agar consuming country (about 2,000 tonnes a year) and almost all of its consumption comes from domestic production. The USA, another major consumer (1,000 tonnes per year), imports more than 80% of its supply. Its main suppliers are Chile, Morocco, Spain and, more recently, the Philippines. The demand for agar in the EEC is approximately 1,300 tonnes per year.
Demand also exists, in newly developed and developing countries for feed grade and bacteriological agar. Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia each import about 200 tonnes each year. The main suppliers for the region are the Republic of Korea, Japan and, more recently, Chile. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India have also produced modest amounts of agar.
Product forms that are marketed are seaweed powder, dried/treated agarophytes and strip, flake, powdered and granular agar. Prices for dried seaweed or alkali-treated (colagar) vary depending on agar quantity and quality.
3 INFOFISH faxed in this information and attached tables. The invited Resource Person could not participate.
Singh, T. 1992. Agar and agar production. INFOFISH Technical Handbook No. 7. INFOFISH, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Table 1: World-wide production of red seaweed (tonnes) FAO Fishery Statistics, 1994.
Figure 1: Total production of aquatic plants (FAO, 1994).