Regional seaweed delicacy ‘latok’ to be commercialised

Petaling Jaya, 14 April 2021 – In a bid to strengthen, promote and develop collaborative research on the commercialisation of Sea Grapes, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between SCU Southeast Asia Sdn Bhd (SCU-SEA) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) recently.

Under the MoU, UMS through the Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition (FFSN) shall focus on developing innovative food products from seaweeds particularly Caulerpa species.

Sea Grapes, more popularly known locally as ‘latok’ in Malaysia, is increasingly a sought-after dish. The seaweed can be served as fresh leafy vegetables as well as main ingredients of salads. In Okinawa Japan, it is also served as high end delicacies with sushi and sashimi.

Known by its scientific name of Caulerpa lentillifera, it is known as a nutrition food alternative within the seafarer communities, and grows in shallow reefs or rocky seabed. It thrives in the seas of Borneo and is observed to have many varieties.

Caulerpa lentillifera is nutritious and rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins, contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and good antioxidant properties.

SCU-SEA – a subsidiary of Australian-listed biotechnology company Stemcell United Limited (ASX:SCU) – was represented by Chief Executive Officer Sadira Yeong while UMS Vice-Chancellor Professor Datuk ChM. Ts. Dr. Taufiq Yap Yun Hin was present.

“We are looking to work closely with a local government research institute as we begin to explore the research and development and commercialisation of seaweed in Malaysia and Singapore, particularly sea grapes”.

Sadira Yeong, CEO of SCU Southeast Asia

“It marks our foray into a future of plant-based protein and nutrition,” said Yeong, adding that SCU-Southeast Asia will be investing into this area.

“This collaboration is a synergistic relationship between two teams of experts from the industrial background, and research background. It will bring many benefits and take into account research and development of seaweed-derived downstream products,” said Taufiq.

SCU’s Group CEO, Philip Gu, who was previously a consultant to the United Nation Food Organisation (UN FAO) said he believes the collaboration would result in a positive impact in the direction of sustainable plant-based protein and nutrition supply chain.

“Our collaboration with Malaysian government research organisation UMS is in line with the company vision to bring positive impacts to society through biotechnology application in the field of agriculture and aquaculture, focusing on precision farming and value-adding processing of high-value plants. We look forward to take this product global and to work closely with UMS in this endeavour,” Gu added.

Synergistic work between UMS experts and SCU-SEA is a way forward to deliver positive impacts to society and lead to the development of seaweed-derived downstream products.