Carrageenan producer Gelymar completes capacity expansion in Chile

The US$15 million investment doubled output to about 10,000 metric tonnes of product

Gelymar, the carrageenan and textural solutions company based in Santiago, Chile, has completed a two-year capacity expansion programme. The US$15 million investment project has doubled production capacity to about 10,000 metric tonnes of product.

The company produces a portfolio of sustainable carrageenan including new textural solutions for dairy, nutrition beverages, vegan products and dressings.

“Gelymar has been registering double-digit growth for many years,” said Andres Hohlberg, Gelymar CEO. "We planned this expansion 24 months ago and invested the total investment amount in our two plants in southern Chile; Puerto Montt and Tierra del Fuego, so as to meet the growing demand of our renewable, new carrageenan line," he added.

For Hohlberg, doubling the production capacity positions Gelymar as a key player and one of the top three carrageenan producers globally. "Food manufacturers rely on expert ingredient producers that can guarantee sustainable supply and offer strong social responsibility programmes," he enthused.

Renewable fresh raw algae

Gelymar produces most of its products from local, renewable fresh raw algae, and uses its solid waste as soil fertilisers for the eucalyptus forest surrounding the plant. The forest is itself the source of sustainable wood for the company’s boilers.

“For every tree we cut, another one is planted,” Hohlberg explained. “Plus, we use only about half of the water typically required for carrageenan production. Our combining of advanced technologies with sustainable strategy helps us to maintain the lowest carbon footprint in the industry.”

Chilean seaweed varieties are becoming the most strategic seaweeds of the carrageenan industry

Hohlberg explains that Gelymar’s latest expansion also corresponds to company efforts to strengthen its positions in Europe and the US.

“In the past 18 months, we launched a series of new products for vegan, dairy, confectionery, pharmaceutical, and personal care products that have been extremely successful,” he notes. “Most of those products are developed out of local Chilean seaweed and we definitely needed more capacity to fulfil demand.”

According to Gelymar, experts in the industry say Chilean seaweed varieties are becoming the most strategic seaweeds of the carrageenan on the market. Growing in pristine cold water, benefiting from the Humboldt Current protecting it from climate change, they are a source of unique carrageenan fractions such as Kappa-2 and Lambda.

Plus, Seaweed from Chile is considered a more reliable supply than, for example, Asian seaweed such as E. cottonii, that currently is suffering from price fluctuation and scarcity.

“We have more than 200 commercial ingredient formulations at Gelymar with different textural and functional properties,” said Vicente Navarrete, President of Gelymar.

Navarrete continued: “Gelymar uses four different extraction technologies, including one that is proprietary. Gelymar management and its shareholders have promoted the great potential of Chilean seaweed since the early 1980s and remains committed to further development of the company’s expertise and offerings.”

Gelymar markets its products around the globe and benefits from unique, long-term strategic alliances with companies such as Algaia SA in Europe; AIDP, Inc. in the US; Ingregel in Spain, the Middle East, and North-Africa; and Blue Way in China.