Gift from the Sea, Part II

Will seaweed become more of a staple in the American Diet? A new company called Blue Evolution is hoping so; they source from North America and perform minimal processing on their product. In part 2 of my interview with company founder, Beau Perry, we learn more about the farmer/fisherman’s place in this company and about the sustainability profile of seaweed.

 

Read my interview with Founder Beau Perry below:

 

You have an unusual model for an emerging brand in that you seem to be as invested in the farming business as in the food production side. Tell me more about that.

This goes back to the core of who our company is — and why we launched a brand. Blue Evolution is a gateway to many good things at the same time. For consumers, it is a gateway to healthier eating — for the fishermen we work with, it is a gateway to a new economy.

Our mission is to enhance people’s lives through a deeper interaction with the ocean. Even within the challenger brand space, we are a stand out because for us we started with “how do we change the farmers’ lives?” The answer was seaweed, and now that answer extends to the multiple products which makes us much more a 3-dimensional company.

Do I know my supply chain? Yes, I built it with my own two hands.   We are creating a way to help fishermen pivot so that part of their income can come from this new resource in a way that is still familiar to them — they can still use their boats and be involved in the water, just in a new way.

We want to tell that story – and let the consumer know that when they buy our products, they are supporting this economic shift for these producers — and helping to encourage a shift in the food industry toward a model that rewards and encourages producer sustainability. At its core, sustainability must include economic viability. If we are creating something of higher value for people and the planet — that can bring with it a higher return for effort, then we all will win — but only if the fisherman/farmer is deeply embedded in that.

This is why our integrated focus on the farm and the consumer works. More than just knowing who our suppliers are, we want them to be at the forefront of our brand.

One of the advantages we bring to sea farmers is they can move away from depending only on a seasonal fishing crop — their fishing is their cream on top vs the staple of what they grow. Growers start out thinking about it in reverse. Fishermen are often away from their families for large amounts of time — but if they grow seaweed, they can stay near their family for greater amounts of time, and have a more stable income.

You eat the pasta and check where it came from — and you say wow, how cool, I get to help these fishermen make a real living in a sustainable way that brings me and the planet more health — and they don’t have to take my word for it — they can see the impact in the fishermen’s lives and in their own health.

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Tell me about what your company is doing on sustainability. Do you measure the triple bottom line (environmental, social, economic performance and outcomes)? Do you focus on a series of “more sustainable” traits or attributes?

Seaweed is more than low impact, it is a virtuous product.

Seaweed is pretty resilient and it has a de-acidification effect as well as capturing carbon dioxide that would otherwise be available to the atmosphere. [This is because Carbon Dioxide converts to Carbonic Acid in water, which is the cause of the lowering of the pH of the world’s oceans. Carbonic Acid also acts as a huge “battery” for atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.]

I’m working on quantifying and capturing the carbon benefit as well – and monetizing that.

As we have discussed, we have a desire to connect the food supply chain all the way back to the grower. We believe this is a key part of sustainability — bringing economic viability to the kind of farming that is good for the planet.

We are working with some of the pioneers of the seaweed industry. Part of that work involves qualifying how much negative impact seaweed can pull out. We are trying to come up with a standard for ocean de-acidification credits. We need more data, but it is a very achievable goal to imagine that each grower when they harvest, will be able to process at a specific humidity and be able to say they captured this much carbon. I’ve started to work on it and this is part of our plan to add this as a revenue center to us and the growers in the future.

We are working on seaweed biofuels as well.

Once we get into the hundred acres of farms, I can justify making the carbon de-acidification credits for farmers – which will change things a lot. The goal is to make this a carbon-negative company.

The seaweed product is also a good way of getting more minerals back into food that are hard to find on land because of a loss of soil health.

With kids, eating is a great way of learning – so for ocean education and helping to elevate the challenges facing the ocean — this is a great product.

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Summary

The challenger brand food space seems full of opportunities and potential for farmers and fishermen to become value-added partners rather than just transactional suppliers. A number of the companies that fit into this category either know their supply-chain or have a goal to as they grow. Blue Evolution’s supply-chain is one of the best examples I’ve seen so far of the significant promise that this entire food trend holds for farmers.

“Eating is believing – and that includes knowing your grower. It turns out, if you eat the right things, we can change the world — and that’s not an exaggeration. It’s so important to who we are, how we feel and the future we can create for the planet, can eat our way to some very positive futures and it will be delicious.”

— Beau Perry, Founder of Blue Evolution

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