2 Production and use of seaweed in the Nordic countries

2.1 Seaweed species used as food and their novel food status

Several seaweed species can be found in Nordic waters. Those that may be used as food are shown in Table 1, with English, Latin and Nordic names.
Seaweed species are classified as novel foods if they have not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, according to the Novel Food Regulation (Regulation (EC) 2015/2283). Novel food must be approved according to a specific procedure before marketing in the EU/EEA. It is the responsibility of the food business operator to document consumption of the foodstuff in the EU prior to May 15, 1997. Seaweed that is not novel food may be marketed as foodstuffs, provided that the product is safe according to Article 14 in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.
Some Nordic species are not novel food, while for others the novel status has not yet been determined. Some of the most used species, like sugar kelp, winged kelp, dulse, and sea lettuce, are classified as not novel food.
English name
Latin name
Nordic names
Novel food status
(JRC, 2021)
Brown algae
Rock weed, egg wrack
Ascophyllum nodosum
NO: Grisetang
DK: Buletang 
SE: Knöltång
IS: Klóþang
FO: Bólatari
Not novel
Fucus vesiculosus
NO: Blæretang
DK: Blæretang
SE: Blåstång
IS: Bóluþang
FO: Bløðrutur skúvtari
Not novel
Toothed wrack or serrated wrack
Fucus serratus
NO: Sagtang
DK: Savtang
SE: Sågtång
IS: Sagþang
Not novel
Spiral wrack or flat wrack
Fucus spiralis
NO: Kaurtang, spiraltang
DK: Lav klørtang
SE: Spiraltång
IS: Klapparþang
FO: Snúgvin skúvtari
Not novel
Channelled wrack
Pelvetia canaliculata
NO: Sauetang
DK: Furetang
IS: Dvergþang
FO: Vanligur Seyðatari
Novel food status not determined
Sea lace
Chorda filum
NO: Martaum, åletang
DK: Strengetang
SE: Sudare
IS: Skollaþvengur
FO: Klænur marbendil
Novel food status not determined
Sea spaghetti
Himanthalia elongata
NO: Remmetang, knapptang
DK: Remmetang
SE: Remtång
Is: Reimaþang
Fø: Langvaksin Reipatari
Not novel food
Sea oak
Halidrys siliquosa
NO: Skolmetang
DK: Skulpetang
SE: Ektång
Novel food status not determined
Sargassum fusiforme
NO: Japansk drivtang
DK: Hijikitang
SE: Hijiki
Novel food status not determined
Sugar kelp
Saccharina latissima
NO: Sukkertare
DK: Sukkertang
SE: Sockertång
IS: Beltisþari
FO: Breiðbløðkutur sukurtari
Not novel food
Laminaria digitata
NO: Fingertare
DK: Fingertang
SE: Fingertång
IS: Hrossaþari
FO: Tarablað
Not novel food
Winged kelp
Alaria esculenta
NO: Butare
DK: Vingetang (wakame)
SE: Havskål
IS: Marínkjarni
FO: Tang
Not novel food
Laminaria hyperborea
NO: Stortare
DK: Palmetang
SE: Stortare
IS: Stórþari
FO: Tonglatarablað
Novel food status not determined
Green algae
Sea lettuce
Ulva fenestrata
(synonym: Ulva lactuca)
NO: Havsalat
DK: Søsalat
SE: Havssallat
IS: Maríusvunta
FO: Blaðslýggj
Not novel food
Gut weed, mermaid’s hair
Ulva intestinalis
(synonym:  Enteromorpha intestinalis)
NO: Tarmgrønske
DK: Tarmrørhinde
SE: Tarmalg
IS: Slafak
FO: Leggslýggj
Novel food status not determined
Sponge seaweed
Codium fragile
NO: Pollpryd
DK: Plysalge
SE: Klykalg
IS: Hafkyrja
Novel food status not determined
Red algae
Dulse, dillisk
Palmaria palmata
NO: Søl
DK: Søl
SE: Söl
IS: Söl
FO: Søl
Not novel food
Purple laver
Porphyra purpurea
NO: Purpurfjærehinne
DK: Rød purpurhinde
SE: Purpursloke
FO: Reyð purpurhinna
Novel food status not determined
Laver, laverbread, tough laver
Porphyra umbilicalis
NO: Vanlig fjærehinne
DK: Noritang
SE: Navelsloke
IS: Purpurahimna
FO: Nalva purpurhinna
Novel food status not determined
Wrack siphon weed
Vertebrata lanosa
NO: Trøffeltang, Grisetangdokke
DK: Uldtottet ledtang
SE: Tryffeltång
IS: Þangskegg
FO: Loðin skeggtari
Novel food status not determined
Irish moss, carragenan moss
Chondrus crispus
NO: Krusflik
DK: Carrageen tang
SE: Karragenalg
IS: Fjörugrös
FO: Ývin brósktari
 Not novel food
Gracilaria seaweeds
Gracilaria gracilis
NO: Pollris
DK: Gracilariatang
SE: Späd agaralg
Novel food status not determined
Gracilaria seaweeds
Gracilaria vermiculophylla
DK: Brunlig gracilariatang
SE: Grov agaralg
Novel food status not determined
Table 1. Nordic seaweed species used as food, and their novel food status in EU

2.2 Food products

Seaweed is sold fresh or after processing, such as drying, blanching, freezing and fermentation. Nordic species are sold and used as ingredients in foodstuffs such as spices, bread, pesto, fish cakes, beverages, and food supplements, but also as a main ingredient in snacks/crisps, soups, salads, pasta, and smoothies. The imported species nori, kombu, and wakame are possibly the most used species in the Nordic countries, commonly used in sushi and other Asian dishes.

2.3 Status in the Nordic countries

Production of seaweed for human consumption is increasingly in focus in the Nordic countries. The food agencies have published some guidance for consumers and producers.


Cultivation and production of seaweed in Denmark is increasing. Seaweed is generally considered a sustainable product for food and feed, and research and development of new products is ongoing. There is great interest in starting various kinds of businesses involving seaweed. Some business operators harvest fresh seaweed to be sold to restaurants, as well as directly to consumers. Others harvest seaweed in larger amounts and sell it as dried seaweed to industry and directly to consumers.
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) has provided advice and guidance for consumers (DVFA, 2021; DVFA, 2022), and for food business operators (DVFA 2022a) on production, harvest, and consumption of seaweed.

The Faroe Islands

Seaweed cultivation in the Faroe Islands is a growing industry but, as yet, only two companies produce seaweed. The products are dried and frozen seaweed and also fermented seaweed for the feed industry. The main species are sugar kelp, winged kelp, oarweed, dulse and laver.


There is a long tradition of using seaweed in Iceland, in particular dulse, probably since the first Nordic settlers arrived. Seaweed has been harvested on an industrial scale on the west coast of Iceland since 1974. The harvested species are rockweed and oarweed, which are dried and processed as algal meal. The dried product is used mainly as raw material for alginate production but also to a lesser extent as feed. There is also small-scale harvesting of dulse and other species for human consumption. There is currently no cultivation of seaweed in Iceland, but interest is growing.


There is a long history of seaweed use in Norway, dating back to the Norse era (Indergaard, 2010), but the degree of use directly as food has been very limited in modern times. However, for decades Norway has a history of wild harvesting of kelp for industrial production of refined polysaccharides for use in food and other products. Harvest for use in commercial fertilisers and feedstuff also has a long history.
Today, production of seaweed in aquaculture is a growing industry, with food products as the main objective, but also for use as feed. The dominating species are sugar kelp and winged kelp. Some producers are testing the use of IMTA and land-based production. Norway is the third largest seaweed producer for wild harvest and aquaculture in the world (FAO and WHO, 2022), mainly tangle for producing alginate. An increasing number of small business operators do hand-harvest of wild stocks.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) has provided dietary advice on seaweed to consumers (NFSA, 2016) and advice on food safety to businesses (NFSA, 2019). Norwegian seaweed producers have published a guideline on cultivation, harvesting and handling of sugar kelp and winged kelp (Norwegian Seaweed Association, 2021).


Interest is growing in the use of seaweed as food and food ingredients in Sweden, as shown by the activities of researchers, trading companies, and primary producers. Currently, seaweed such as sugar kelp and oarweed are farmed. Other species farmed at sea are sea lettuce and dulse, and there is some minor harvesting of wild seaweed. Land-based production involves gutweed and dulse.
The Swedish Food Agency has issued general guidelines on possible high iodine levels in seaweed and seaweed products (Swedish Food Agency, 2022).
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