“We decided to pioneer something that’s good for the planet. We need something that is profitable, but that also provides benefits to human health, coastal communities and the planet. That’s our percolating ethos,” says CEO Mike Williamson. By all accounts, they are succeeding.
Growing to be the largest North American provider of cultivated seaweed, Cascadia Seaweed strives to build a profitable and scalable business that enhances the natural environment and provides economic opportunity for coastal communities. The Sidney-based company was founded in 2019 by three maritime professionals, Bill Collins, Mike Williamson and Tony Ethier.
Partnering with Indigenous communities along the coast is an important measurement of success for Cascadia Seaweed. “The excitement is in the idea,” says Chairman Bill Collins. “It’s because we are doing something revolutionary here on Canada’s west coast. We’re doing it at scale and in partnership with First Nations communities. This is just the beginning.” Embracing the local wisdom and workforce, Cascadia in return provides jobs, skills training and the opportunity for people to live and work in their home communities.
Cascadia Seaweed is beginning research with cold-water seaweeds as an animal feed supplement to reduce methane produced by livestock. Positive results have been found using a warm-water red seaweed called Asparagopsis taxiformis. The goal for Cascadia Seaweed is to cultivate a local species with the same outcome of decreasing the amount of methane produced primarily through cow’s digestion and waste.
Not stopping with one innovation, Cascadia is also interested in developing a plastic-alternative made from seaweed as well as nutrient-dense food products. Triple win. “Ideally our food products will be wrapped in our own seaweed-based packaging,” says Williamson.
Cascadia Seaweed won the BC Food & Beverage Innovation Award for 2020, at the BCFB Awards Show. “It was an honour to be showcased alongside some amazing BC Food and Beverage processors, and I really noticed a theme of sustainability and plant-based nutrition throughout the presentations,” said Desiree Dupuis, VP Sales & Marketing of Cascadia Seaweed, which sparked her own enthusiasm to seek a nomination in the Best in Brand category at next year’s awards.
Cascadia Seaweed is fully integrated, from producing seed in their nursery to developing food products. It’s their collaborative model and process of sustainably cultivating seaweed in the ocean for food that won them the BCFB Innovation Award. Cascadia has adopted a ‘truly good’ motto spanning from corporate culture to operational decision making.
Check them out at: https://www.cascadiaseaweed.com/