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Seaweed Market Analysis

ASC-MSC Consultancy Requirement

Terms of Reference – Seaweed Market Analysis

We have a new consultancy need focused on Market analysis of ASC-MSC eco-labelled seaweed products in South Korea and Japan (food segment)


The MSC and ASC jointly launched a seaweed certification and ecolabelling programme in 2018. Currently, there are over 50 certified producers in Japan and Korea, accounting for 11,000 tons of certified seaweed. They produce seaweed mainly for human consumption derived from nori, wakame, and kelp. Our market strategy, which encourages demand for certified sustainable seaweed and use of MSC & ASC ecolabels on seaweed products, focuses mainly on Japan and South Korea. The potential in these markets is huge due to the large volume of edible seaweed consumed compared to the rest of the world. To date 50 seaweeds products, carry the MSC or ASC label or both, which are sold in Japan and South Korea.

After 5 years of experience, the market penetration of eco-labelled seaweed products in these markets is still in its early days. MSC and ASC executives would like to understand the reasons for this and require an analysis of the seaweed market in both Japan and South Korea to assess the opportunities and challenges for eco-labelled seaweed products. We are asking;

  • Is there a current or near-future (3-5 years) expected market demand for eco-labelled edible seaweed products in Japan and South Korea? (Size, which market segment)?
  • If so, what are the aspects – sustainability/responsibility aspects/offerings/incentives – for consumers, retailers and consumer facing brands), driving demand for eco-labelled edible sustainable seaweed products? (Value proposition space)
  • If so, what are the challenges to overcome to successfully develop this market for eco-labelled seaweed? (Challenges to overcome, barriers for entry)
  • What is our unique ability to win based on the above in comparison to other competitive sustainability offerings in the market? (Ability to win)


A combination of research methods will be needed, such as quantitative market data, interviews, surveys and literature review. Based on objectives above, we expect the candidate to specify the proposed research methods and order.

Key stakeholders such as retailers, farmers, processing companies, consumers, and industry experts can be interviewed to understand their experiences with labelling for seaweed products. In addition, literature reviews can be conducted to identify any regulatory requirements, cultural differences, or lack of awareness that may act as potential barriers to entry and incentives.

The intent is not to do a consumer survey. The aim will be to gain insights into retailers’ perspectives on the demand for eco-labelled edible sustainable seaweed products, the challenges they face in promoting and selling these products, and the incentives.


Deliverables for the market analysis of ASC-MSC certified seaweed products in South Korea and Japan should include a report with the following sections:

  1. Establish a market baseline for sustainable and responsible related claims or label on seaweed products and forecast evolution in the short (1-5 years) and long term (6+ years).
  2. Market analysis and market opportunities for eco-labelled seaweed products in Japan and Korea. This should include an in-depth analysis of the current market size, growth rate, and expected market size for eco-labelled seaweed products in 3-5 years (in volume, value, in volume, value, key supermarket, retail and brands), including an illustration of projection of current eco-labelled seaweed products in the market. This section of the report should also examine the pricing dynamics and profit margins associated with different product categories.
  3. Revision of what is driving retailers, brands and consumers interest in eco-labelled seaweed and what challenges can be expected.
  4. Evaluation of other certification schemes. Analyse the market share of each certification scheme and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Include a comparative analysis that benchmarks the ASC-MSC Seaweed standard against the identified schemes, including standard, assurance, cost sustainability claims and business model. Identify the specific strengths and weaknesses of ASC-MSC eco-labelled seaweed products against other schemes.
  5. Conclusion and recommendations providing a comprehensive summary of the market for ASC-MSC certified seaweed products in South Korea and Japan and provide recommendations for improving market uptake and the value proposition for stakeholders.

Anticipated Timeline

Application deadline 21st July 2023
Shortlisting 24th – 28 July 2023
Decision & notification By 31st July 2022
Start of consultancy 1st August 2023
Kick-off meeting Week of 1st August 2023
Desktop research and interviews By 11 August 2023
Draft report submitted to the ASC-MSC By 27th Septeber2023

(ASC-MSC will provide feedback by 10th October2023)

Final report submitted to the ASC-MSC By 20th October 2023
Closing meeting (2 hours) By 24th October 2023


Consultant Essentials / Qualifications

The consultant/ team of consultants should possess the following competency requirements:

  • Strong skills in conducting quantitative and qualitative market research are essential.
  • Have experience conducting market research.
  • The consultant should have a good understanding of the seaweed industry, including its processing, distribution, and market dynamics.
  • The consultant should possess knowledge of the South Korean and Japanese markets, and regulatory frameworks.
  • The consultant should be based on the region or have local partners in South Korea and Japan.
  • The consultant should have knowledge of sustainability certifications, particularly in the seafood industry. Familiarity with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards would be beneficial. Understanding different certification schemes and their strengths and weaknesses is important for evaluating the market landscape.
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills – including ability to communicate with technical and non-technical peers.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and experience working with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds.

International travel is not anticipated as a necessary requirement for the remit of this scope of work.

Application and Selection 

Interested parties are invited to submit their proposals by email with the subject header ‘Application Seaweed Market Analysis’ to

Responding to this Request for Proposals should include the following:

  • Overview of relevant experience
  • Proposed methodology and timeline
  • Proposed project delivery team
  • Detailed and transparent budget in USD, including time allocation and day rates.
  • Declare any conflict of interest

Deadline for submission of proposal is Friday 21st July 2023 23:00 BST

The indicative budget of this work is estimated at circa $30,000 (including data acquisition). Questions, requests, and applications sent after the proposal deadline will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

In addition to skills, competencies and expertise, we will consider value for money and demonstrable commitment to the sustainability field to evaluate applications.

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