Reaping the Health Benefits of Seaweed and Kelp

“I have sometimes said that Reykhólar is the seaweed mecca of Iceland,” says Tryggvi Harðarson, district manager of Reykhólar, which is in the Westfjords of Iceland.

Geothermal seaweed processing has been in operation at Reykhólar for about 50 years, producing mainly seaweed meal for export. There are also start-up companies that produce nutritional supplements and nutrients for flowers and trees.

“It is full of minerals and vitamins, and people have begun to talk about seaweed and kelp as the future storehouse of humanity. Therefore, I believe there are several options for promoting further processing of seaweed and kelp. For example, an idea has come up to create a seaweed group or kelp cluster where many companies would come together under one hat and would produce different products from seaweed. I believe there is a good likelihood that seaweed products can be marketed in many forms. For example, soaps and fertilizers are produced with it because there is so much health content in there. It is believed, for example, that it greatly reduces the gas emissions of cattle which cause considerable pollution but, by giving them seaweed meal, it may reduce the emissions by up to half.”

The Icelandic sea and its fish are known for their purity and are very clean. “The seaweed in Breiðafjörður, on which Reykhólar stands, is sustainable; people reap a certain area and then grow there for four to five years until the area is ready to be reaped again.”

The geothermal resource at Reykhólar offers unusually warm waters and ideas about bathing facilities and even health hotels have been linked to it. “Both domestic and foreign parties have shown interest.”

Tryggvi speaks Chinese, as he lived in China for several years. Some Chinese tourists who visit Reykhólar find it strange when a local resident walks up to them and starts talking to them in Chinese!

Kelp farming in Breiðafjörður