65% of Indonesia’s Seaweed Product Exports Are Still in Raw Form, Industrialization Is the Key


A substantial 65% of Indonesia’s exported seaweed products remain in their raw or unprocessed state, despite the considerable potential for this commodity to be transformed into a valuable resource for industries such as pharmaceuticals and beauty.

Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs, Teten Masduki, highlighted the significance of seaweed as a flagship commodity, emphasizing its potential role in Indonesia’s national downstreaming program. This program aims to add value to raw materials and create a more extensive range of products and industries within the country.

Furthermore, Minister Teten pointed out the substantial wheat imports that Indonesia currently relies on. Surprisingly, research has shown that approximately 30% of the imported wheat could be substituted with processed seaweed, indicating not only the economic value of seaweed but also its potential to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign imports.

Intriguingly, if this potential is harnessed and optimized effectively, Wakatobi, located in Southeast Sulawesi, a region already rich in marine resources, could emerge as the world’s premier seaweed producer. This possibility holds tremendous promise for Indonesia’s future economic prospects and its role on the global stage.

Minister Teten also offered insights into the broader global context of the seaweed industry. Projections indicate a robust annual growth rate of 10.5% for the seaweed sector worldwide, with anticipated revenues reaching an impressive $48 billion by the year 2030.

In terms of Indonesia’s contribution to this industry, it currently stands as the second-largest seaweed producer globally, representing a significant portion at 27.86% of the total global seaweed production, which amounts to a staggering 35.8 million tons.

To harness this potential, Teten explained that President Joko Widodo, in his vision for industrialization, is actively involving cooperative and SME players in the processing and value addition of seaweed. This approach not only supports the growth of the seaweed industry but also aligns with broader economic objectives by promoting inclusivity and equitable economic distribution.

He emphasized the importance of ensuring that the benefits of this industry are accessible to a wide spectrum of society, advocating for a distribution that doesn’t favor only large enterprises but ensures that the economic pie can be enjoyed by everyone. This approach is in line with the principles of fair economic development and the advancement of small and medium-sized businesses in Indonesia.

Finally, Teten addressed Indonesia’s aspirations to become an advanced nation by the year 2045. To achieve this status, the country needs to increase its per capita income to a minimum of approximately $13,000, a notable leap from the current figure of $4,500.

With the majority of jobs in Indonesia originating from the micro and small enterprise sectors, many of which are subsistence-based and informal, there’s a critical need to provide high-quality job opportunities and support the transformation of these sectors. Industrialization, or downstreaming, is seen as a pivotal program in this journey toward advanced nation status, focusing on economic diversification and strengthening the national economy.

In summary, Indonesia’s seaweed industry presents a compelling story of untapped potential and economic growth. It offers a chance to not only reduce imports but also elevate the country’s status in the global seaweed market. Furthermore, it exemplifies the commitment to inclusive economic development and positions itself as a cornerstone in Indonesia’s path toward becoming an advanced nation.