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NUS partners local firm to launch seaweed-based drink

The bottled drink is based on eucheuma, a type of seaweed that is associated with various health benefits such as being high in dietary fibre and antioxidants, according to NUS scientists and food manufacturer Y G C Group.  

SINGAPORE: Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have partnered local food manufacturer Y G C Group to launch a bottled drink based on eucheuma, a type of seaweed that is associated with various health benefits, they announced on Friday (Mar 18). 

Scientists from NUS Faculty of Science's Food Science and Technology Programme said eucheuma is known to be low in calories and high in dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as calcium and potassium.

Assistant Professor Yang Hongshun added that regular consumption of eucheuma has health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, preventing cardiovascular diseases and colon cancer, as well as promoting anti-ageing, brain development and tissue repair.

Eucheuma was chosen as the main ingredient because it is underutilised in commercial products despite its health properties, he explained.

Asst Prof Yang said: "We discussed the many options for developing this kind of beverages. Finally, we targeted eucheuma because there are a lot of benefits from eucheuma based on the literature report."

The move to sell eucheuma drinks comes amid growing global interest in healthier food and beverages.

According to Murdoch University's director of Singapore Centre for Research in Innovation, Productivity and Technology, Dr Christopher Vas, the consumption of carbonated drinks in the United States has fallen by a quarter as people turn to healthier drinks.

However, he warned that as eucheuma is a little-known ingredient, a lot of marketing will be required. “The evidence is there that there is a market for it,” Dr Vas said. “Companies are also starting to see a much wider range of products and health food products being introduced in the market.”

He added: “Products like this have a certain period of time to go through before they establish their position in the market place. But it's only a matter of time before we start to see emerging trends where health food products like the one launched today will become second nature to many consumers in future."

The bottled drink range will be sold online by the end of March. There are also plans to sell the product at supermarkets and in overseas markets such as China, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

NUS and Y G C Group will collaborate on further research into eucheuma and to develop other eucheuma-based products such as pastries, with an investment of S$600,000 over the next four years.