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Financial boost for Lewis seaweed producer that supplies algae for blockbusters

Joanna Peteranna, HIE, and Martin Macleod, managing director of Hebridean Seaweed.
Joanna Peteranna, HIE, and Martin Macleod, managing director of Hebridean Seaweed.

Britain’s largest seaweed processor – which even supplies algae for the sets of blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars – has been awarded more than £650,000 to grow more.

The Hebridean Seaweed Company Ltd in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis already supplies markets around the world.

Now Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has awarded funding of £659,000 to boost the firm even more.

The company at Arnish Point has started constructing a new facility at as part of a £7 million expansion project and once completed it is expected to double the number of employees to 26.

Set-up by Martin Macleod and Malcolm Macrae in 2006, the company harvests Ascophyllum nodosum – better known as knotted wrack – which is completely sustainable and organic.

Harvesting takes place all year round with cutting carried out manually and mechanically using a fleet of seaweed harvesting boats.

The raw seaweed is then gently dried in a tunnel drier and milled to the customers’ specifications.

Products made by Hebridean Seaweed Company are used in the cosmetic and food industries as well as for animal feed supplements, soil enhancement, alginate and the nutraceutical industries.

To date, the seaweed has also been used in 17 movies, featuring on the sets of the most recent two Star War films, the last two episodes in the Pirates of the Caribbean series and Les Miserables.

Managing Director Martin Macleod said: “The Outer Hebrides has vast amounts of seaweed and we only use a percentage of it and in close co-operation with the Crown Estate and other bodies.

“We look forward to growing the business from our Isle of Lewis base substantially in the coming months and years.

“We are delighted that HIE is supporting us in our venture and we look forward to working with them as we grow the business.”

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn, added: “This funding announcement is great news for the local people and surrounding area, as it brings with it more jobs, investment and the possibility for further development to the Isle of Lewis. “I was fortunate enough to visit the factory site during a recent trip to the islands and see first-hand the ambitious plans for the factory, which will only serve to strengthen the relationship between Scottish produce and international markets.”

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