In conversation with Mr Abhiram Seth, Managing Director of AquAgri Processing Private Limited, he delves into Aquagri’s trajectory in the semi-refined carrageenan market, its contributions to India’s self-sufficiency goals, and its commitment to sustainable and plant-based solutions.

Question- How has the trajectory of your company been so far and what are the key learnings that you have harbored over the years?

Carrageenan, derived from red seaweed, has a long history of use in cooking, but its commercial application as a thickening and stabilising agent began in the 1930s. It has since become a common ingredient in many processed foods, particularly in dairy and meat products, due to its texture-enhancing and stabilizing properties.

Aquagri has been a key player in the semi-refined carrageenan market since 2012, supplying carrageenan to various industries in India, including food, beverage, and air fresheners. The company’s expertise lies in cultivating seaweed to produce kappa-carrageenan, making it the only Indian company with complete backward integration. Aquagri has built a reputation as a trusted and quality producer of carrageenan in the country.

Majorly domestic demand for carrageenan is being met through imports, Aquagri sees potential in substituting the import with indigenous production, in line with PM Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Yojna. As more people explore incorporating carrageenan into food and beverage products to enhance yield, quality, shelf life etc. Aquagri is committed to innovating its products to meet the evolving needs of the Indian food and beverage industry.

Question- What void in the food industry inspired you to take up this initiative and what are your key/ unique contributions in this domain?

 Aquagri’s unique position in the market is driven by two main factors. Firstly, as an indigenous company, Aquagri offers a competitive advantage by providing a locally sourced alternative to imported carrageenan, allowing customers to save on import duties. Secondly, Aquagri’s use of carrageenan for food applications is inspired by the need for a natural, plant-based thickening and stabilizing agent, offering a sustainable alternative to animal-origin gelling agents like gelatin. 

Additionally, Aquagri’s production of organic biostimulants from the same seaweed used for carrageenan production further enhances its competitiveness by reducing production costs. This approach also aligns with the Make In India Campaign, showcasing Aquagri as a local producer that grows and processes its products within the country.

Question- What are the trends you are seeing in your sector and how is that influencing your work/product? 

There is a growing demand for natural ingredients such as carrageenan which is an alternative to synthetic additives. Companies are exploring the opportunities of making speciality blend applications which include other hydrocolloids. Companies are also investing in research to develop new carrageenan-based products that cater to changing consumer preferences, such as clean label, plant-based, and sustainable offerings. 

Aquagri is also investing on the R&D of carrageenan. We are working to bring more speciality blends under the guidance of international consultants. We are planning to introduce agar, alginate and refined carrageenan as well in the coming future.

Question – How do you work to sustain a relationship with your consumer segment and how does that influence the quality of your work?

 Regular and transparent communication with consumers helps build trust and loyalty. Being transparent about product ingredients, sourcing, and production processes helps us build trust with consumers. sustaining a relationship with consumers involves understanding their needs and preferences, engaging with them effectively, and continuously improving products and services based on their feedback. This focus on consumer satisfaction and loyalty can drive quality improvements and innovation in the carrageenan sector, ensuring that products meet consumer expectations and remain competitive in the market.

Question- What new concept would you like to create to fill a gap in the current marketplace?

India currently relies on imports to meet its carrageenan needs, indicating a market gap for domestically sourced products. Aquagri is addressing this gap by offering locally produced carrageenan, which not only meets local demand but also supports the growth of the domestic industry. Aquagri’s high-quality carrageenan contributes to the Indian economy and promotes self-sufficiency in production. Additionally, Aquagri plans to enter the export market, establishing itself as a reputable producer and supplier of carrageenan products from South East Asia.

Question- What are your plans for the future and do you have any projects/ collaborations lined up for the near future?

 Aquagri’s future goals are ambitious and align with its vision to become a prominent player in the carrageenan industry. By increasing its production capacity to 1000MT annually, Aquagri aims to meet the growing demand for carrageenan in the market. Additionally, establishing itself as a reputed South Asian Carrageenan Producing Company will not only enhance Aquagri’s reputation but also position India as a key player in the global carrageenan market. Aquagri’s efforts to expand its product portfolio further demonstrate its commitment to meeting the evolving needs of the industry.