18 February 2019

Defining sustainable seaweed standards with Cargill


Defining sustainable seaweed standards with Cargill

Cargill, one of the leading global providers of food and agricultural products, has increasingly sought to establish and implement commitments to responsible sourcing in its supply chains. The latest of these comes in the form of Cargill’s Red Seaweed Promise™ - a sustainability programme for red seaweed extracts.

Red seaweed extracts – most commonly known as carrageenan – have a range of beneficial properties and are used as a texturizing ingredient in many food and personal care products. Its use goes back over 600 years, whilst Cargill – now a recognised supplier of high-quality carrageenan – has worked with the ingredient since the early start of the industry.

Today, most supplies originate from smallholders farming red seaweed around the coasts of Southeast Asia and East Africa. These smallholders and their communities are often vulnerable to shocks and stresses as a result of climate change. They have limited capacity to adapt to changing environmental and market conditions and there is some risk that their farming practices could have negative impacts on the marine and coastal environment. What’s more, complex supply chains mean that it is often challenging to trace the ingredient back to its source.

In an effort to reduce these risks, Cargill has launched their Red Seaweed Promise. Proforest has been providing essential support to this programme, beginning with the definition of a credible tool to help evaluate the environmental and social performance of suppliers and producers. Target levels of performance are integrated within this tool, enabling Cargill to make more effective decisions on responsible sourcing.  This work will focus on 


  •          Empowering seaweed producers through the provision of training, coaching & tools to support best practices and delivery of high-quality red seaweed
  •          Improving production & harvesting practices by developing more accessible, responsible and resilient production systems and farming tools to sustain red seaweed production
  •          Community support: Help to strengthen seaweed producers and their communities, promote gender equality, and break down barriers to economic empowerment.
  •        Partnerships: Strengthen partnerships with suppliers and industry organisations to collaboratively develop a more sustainable red seaweed supply chain.


Tony Hill, Director of Proforest’s Smallholder Support Programme, said: “Proforest has been pleased to work at the cutting edge with Cargill and to support their endeavours to promote sustainability in the red seaweed industry. This is a good example of innovation in responsible sourcing, where we have been able to use our expertise in responsible sourcing of mainstream agricultural commodities like palm oil and sugar, and our experience in engaging and supporting smallholder producers across a range of other ingredients. ”


“Red seaweed production is critical to the prosperity of approximately one million producers and their communities. Today, these producers face multiple challenges, from climate change and extreme weather events to inefficient farming and harvesting practices, which have a significant impact on the quality of red seaweed. The Red Seaweed Promise supports producer’s prosperity by providing the training, coaching and tools producers need to adopt environmental and safe production best practices while committing to sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems.”

- Sebastien Jan, Cargill Seaweed Strategic Sourcing Project Manager.


With global commercial markets for raw materials such as red seaweed set to grow substantially in the coming years, programmes such as Cargill’s Red Seaweed Promise  help ensure that food supply chains are not operating at the cost of environmental health or human welfare. Proforest congratulates Cargill on the launch of this programme and looks forward to working together for responsible sourcing in the future.