Incubating super seaweed in Clayton

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An innovative local start-up is transforming Australian seaweed into a convenient superfood.

Sarah Leung, 31, said the inspiration behind her brand, Alg Seaweed, came from her years working as a dietitian in Glen Waverley and having many clients with thyroid problems.

“Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production and iodine deficiency can contribute to impaired thyroid function. Seaweed is a great source of iodine and therefore promotes thyroid health,” Sarah said.

“People know about calcium and iron, but there is not as much knowledge around iodine, which is especially important for pregnant women.”

Sarah’s findings encouraged her to begin exploring ways for people to add iodine to their diet and Alg, which stems from the word algae, was born. ”Seaweed is such a great food,” Sarah said. “It’s a nutrient powerhouse providing our bodies with many macro and micronutrients.”

Alg is an easy and tasty way of adding seaweed to everyday dishes as it’s a dukkah-style sprinkle that can be used like salt and pepper. Sarah said just half a teaspoon of Alg delivered 55 per cent of the recommended daily intake of iodine for adults.

“It gives a lovely savoury flavour and can be added to any meals, from your eggs in the morning, to salads, meats, mashed potato and polenta,” Sarah said.

Sarah’s products are made from wakame seaweed handpicked from the Tasmanian sea. Wakame is an introduced species and harvesting it also helps rid Australian waters of the weed.

Sarah came up with her idea for Alg just two years ago and she’s already progressed from selling at farmers’ markets to creating her own online shop stocked with a range of her staple product as well as seaweed soap and gift sets.

Her decision to use Monash University’s Food Incubator that works with food entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, has helped fuel the rapid growth of the business.

My Other Kitchen, which is part of the incubator, allowed her to develop her product in registered food premises and get mentorship and support.

Sarah also took advantage of Rocket Seeder’s 12-week accelerator program. “The program helped me refine my niche and keep building on creating a product that fit market needs,” she said.

Sarah said the Clayton-based facilities were great resources for entrepreneurs looking to follow their food dreams and network with like-minded people.

Now a busy mum to seven-month-old Charlie, Sarah is consolidating her learnings and making tweaks ahead of embarking on the next phase of her business - exploring export opportunities.

“The seaweed industry in Australia is really in its infancy so it’s an exciting time,” Sarah said.

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Last updated: 25 April 2019