Maine Kelp Demand Drives Processor to Quadruple Space

  Women of Algae
Kelp Demand

Atlantic Sea Farms 27,800-square-foot lease in Biddeford is four times larger than its current spot, reflecting growing demand for kelp foods. Courtesy: Colliers

Atlantic Sea Farms grows, processes, and sells kelp and kelp products including ready-cut kelp, kelp cubes, a fermented kimchi-like product called Sea-Chi and a vegan probiotic sauerkraut called Sea-Beet Kraut. Their products are available for the food service industry and retail sales. 

The company launched its fermented seaweed salad in supermarket chain Whole Foods last August and in March they introduced ready-cut kelp and kelp cubes throughout the Sprouts Farmers Market chain.

Fast-growing demand for kelp products

The company’s founders created the first commercially viable seaweed farm in the United States in 2009, according to its website. In 2019, the company processed 240,000 pounds of kelp that were harvested by 24 partner-farmers. The partnerships expanded to 27 in 2020, when they harvested 450,000 pounds. It is projected that they will harvest 670,000 pounds in 2021.

The impending move to a larger facility reflects the growing demand for their products, which has grown nearly 10-fold, from 160 locations in 2019 to nearly 1,300 today, according to the company’s CEO, Briana Warner.

Ms. Warner said the search for new space took over a year and was largely driven by the location of the company’s partner-farmers, most of whom are in the mid-coast area and in Casco Bay. 

“We need to be where we can find production staff and where our distributors will pick up along the highway corridor,” she said. “We finally found a wonderful property with a landlord who’s willing to work with us,” she said. “It’s been a really nice partnership. It’s a perfect spot for us to grow.”

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