Bill Collins, chairperson of Cascadia Seaweed, enjoys a piece of sugar kelp, in 2020. The company has received $12,500 through a joint federal-provincial program to develop a traceability system for its seaweed. (Black Press Media File)

Bill Collins, chairperson of Cascadia Seaweed, enjoys a piece of sugar kelp, in 2020. The company has received $12,500 through a joint federal-provincial program to develop a traceability system for its seaweed. (Black Press Media File)

Sidney-based Cascadia Seaweed receives funding for tracing system

Company with with farms off the coast of Vancouver Island aims to build consumer confidence

A Sidney-based business has received federal support to help build consumer confidence in its growing line of ocean-grown seaweed.

Cascadia Seaweed has received $12,500 through a joint federal-provincial program to develop a traceability system for its business. The system will help Cascadia Seaweed document where the company grew, harvested and processed each variety as the food makes its way to consumers. Public health officials use this documentation to limit the spread of foodborne illness, raise brand reputation and help businesses become more efficient.

Bill Collins, Mike Williamson and Tony Ethier founded the company in 2019. It has established four farms off Vancouver Island (two in Barkley Sound and two in the Discovery Islands) where it grows different types of seaweed, including sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) and winged kelp (Alaria marginata), while growing a red algae or, dulse (Palmaria mollis), in 10-litre tanks on land.

RELATED: Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

RELATED: Seaweed farming opens world of opportunity for coastal B.C.

Cascadia plans to expand its varieties as part of a larger push to popularize seaweed as a food. A number of products already use seaweed, with other uses under development as the demand for sustainably grown food and other resources increases in the face of population pressures and climate change.

“Our changing world has highlighted the need for food security,” said Bill Collins, chair of Cascadia Seaweed. “Food security not only means a consistent and reliable route to our table, it also means a route with transparency, so consumers can trust what they eat. B.C. traceability helps us achieve that goal.”

RELATED: Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

RELATED: Sidney’s Cascadia Seaweed hopes to float to the top of a growing industry

Marie Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, said the announced funding will help Cascadia Seaweed improve its traceability system and its efficiency. “Investments in projects such as this help to strengthen food safety from farm to plate and build consumer confidence in our homegrown products around the world,” she said.

Lana Popham, provincial minister of agriculture, food and fisheries, said local businesses like Cascadia Seaweed are the heart of coastal communities in British Columbia in creating a product respected and enjoyed around the world. “By making traceability systems more accessible to businesses, we’re helping companies create safe and reliable food for consumers while strengthening B.C.’s food system,” she said.


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