The little island of Læsø sits between Denmark and Sweden. There, seaweeds are an intrinsic part of the island’s history and landscape, being traditionally used as a roofing material. Læsø Tang (Læsø Seaweed) is a family-run company on the island that has taken seaweed a step further. The company engages people in producing, harvesting and eating the delicious sea vegetable known as sugar kelp (Saccharina latissimi). Thanks to EU support, the company has been able to expand its activities.
Rie and Leif Ladefoged started Læsø Tang in 2014 with the desire to make greater use of locally produced food in Denmark and to promote healthier living. Their vision was to increase seaweed consumption and develop rural areas through a new business model. Læsø Tang began with a small production of dried seaweed, sold in the company’s farm shop. They collected their own seaweed by hand from the shore, and supplemented this by buying seaweed from local fishers, who collected it from deeper waters as a bycatch in their nets. Over time, Rie and Leif realised that by improving their production system, they could make seaweed products the main business of the company.
Læsø Tang received EU funding for the project called 'Læsø Tang spreads further'. This project aimed at scaling up their business by insulating the farm shop and building a new drying facility to increase the production capacity. Looking towards a possible further development, Læsø Tang has started experimenting with seaweed cultivation, both on land and on ropes in the sea. This has already been tried at other locations but is new for Læsø. Rie and Leif have joined a nationally financed project via the local action group (LAG) Langeland, Læsø, Samsø and Ærø (LLSÆ), which covers four small island municipalities, to find out whether seaweed can be cultivated on Læsø itself, or alternatively, on a kilometre-long line anchored a few hundred metres from the shore. Læsø Tang is not just about seaweed production though, but also about lifestyle and education: Rie and Leif are constantly looking for opportunities of getting more people to consume seaweed. Alongside seaweed production, they also run “seaweed safaris” and organise harvesting outings for tourists on Læsø.
'Læsø Tang' is part of the naïve belief that places like Læsø have a future – that small communities, local involvement, local food are a real alternative to a life in the big cities” they say.
The EU support has enabled the company to expand and invest in production equipment, while developing sustainable outdoor tourism, which benefits the local coastal community, and quality food, which strengthens the Læsø food brand.
Did you like this story?
Then check out the October episode of Euronews OCEAN 'Blue revolution': How farmed seaweed is good for us and the planet
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