Irish seaweed calcium supply is safe, says Marigot

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Calcium Milk

The world's leading plant-sourced supplier of calcium has defended itself against an industry source's accusations that it has over-harvested its Irish seaweed supply and will soon be forced to source exclusively from its new Icelandic base.

Commercial manager David O'Leary said Marigot's harvesting practices posed no threat to its ongoing supply, while also being environmentally sound.

"We only harvest the mature/aged material, not the live young plant,"​ he told "The material is regenerating continuously itself, so we do not interfere with its renewal process. This is not an issue for Marigot as we have two raw material deposits for Aquamin."

New markets

O'Leary added that demand for calcium from new markets such as China had forced up the global spot price of dairy-sourced calcium as increasingly wealthy Asian consumers developed a taste for dairy and dairy ingredient-fortified foods and beverages.

Plant-sourced calcium is typically more expensive than dairy versions, with prices reaching as much as €25 per kilogram compared to €3/kg for some dairy versions.

"Pricing levels have been increasing rapidly over the last 12-18 months with increased demand for dairy-based ingredients in China in particular,"​ O'Leary said.

Marigot does not sell its ingredients into China but has clients in other Asian markets.

Calcium has struggled to maintain its profile amid the rise of ingredients considered more 'exciting', such as omega-3s, probiotics and plant sterols. But with the public need for calcium fortification remaining constant, the market for the ingredient has seen a resurgence.

Indeed, major food companies such as Nestlé, Danone and Unilever have in recent years conducted major advertising campaigns stressing the importance of meeting recommended daily intakes for calcium.

"At one stage the functional foods industry seemed to forget about the importance of calcium, as new and more exotic ingredients emerged,"​ O'Leary said. "However, the fundamental need for calcium means there will always be demand and the market is now experiencing a revival."

O'Leary said the fact Marigot's proprietary calcium ingredient, Aquamin, was offered in several formats helped the company maintain a diverse portfolio of clients in both food supplements and functional foods.

Marigot said Aquamin offered "unique solubility, lower sedimentation, improved mouthfeel, less astringency and no sandy or chalky taste."

Aquamin, like other plant-sourced versions of calcium, is being marketed on its calcium+ nutritional payload. In addition to calcium, the ingredient is abundant is magnesium, selenium and some 70 other trace minerals.

According to Marigot, Aquamin can be used in a wide variety of food, beverage and food supplement applications, including mineral waters, breakfast juices, chocolates, smoothies, soy beverages, and yoghurts.

The red seaweed ingredient, available internationally, comes in four commercial grades at low, neutral and high pH values, said O'Leary, and can be formulated into products "across all pH ranges"​.


Recent Marigot research found two versions of Aquamin had no stability or sensory effects in UHT milk, long-life yoghurt drinks and spoonable yoghurt products.

While the ingredient had no negative impact on the UHT milk and spoonable yoghurt, it had improved the strawberry flavour and freshness of the long-life yoghurt drink.

"We're extremely pleased with the outcome of this research,"​ said O'Leary. "It's our job to research new and interesting applications for our ingredient to enable manufacturers to meet the requirements of today's consumer."

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