Mara Seaweed selected for Tesco’s 2019 Incubator programme

Mara Seaweed. Photograph by Angus Bremner©
Mara Seaweed. Photograph by Angus Bremner©

Edinburgh based food producer, Mara Seaweed has been included in Tesco’s 2019 Incubator programme. 

It is just one of six UK food and drink brands, and the only one from Scotland, to be chosen to partner with the supermarket giant, which looks to help young, innovative suppliers grow and reach their potential.

Established in 2017, Tesco’s Incubator programme is designed to give a helping hand to a carefully selected group of small entrepreneurial brands that have the potential to offer something different and exciting to customers.  Over the past two years, 28 suppliers have participated in the programme, with brands such as Brewdog, Fevertree and Graze going on to become household names.

Mara’s seaweed flakes – ‘healthy salt’ – has been recognised by Tesco as offering something different and exciting: a way of reducing sodium salt intake with a mineral-rich nutritious ‘healthy salt’ that tastes delicious. Mara will be launching in November in Tesco, in the Herbs & Spice category.

Once selected, each brand on the Incubator completes a comprehensive yearlong programme that includes advice and guidance on marketing products effectively, responding to Tesco customer insight, as well as tips and mentorship from Tesco’s experienced Product team.

Award winning Mara Seaweed was established in 2013 by Fiona Houston and Xa Milne and has now grown to be a ground-breaking sea-to-shelf culinary seaweed brand, with the aim of “nourishing body and soul” with sustainable, local, seaweed.

The business has come a long way since Xa and Fiona met in 2003 and discovered a shared love of seaweed foraging which led to the cookbook ‘Seaweed and eat it’. In 2013 Mara began to sustainably wild harvest under Crown Estate license in Scotland, and Mara (Gaelic for sea) Seaweed was born. Since then, Mara has grown to a team employing 8 people, working hard to develop the supply chain and establish the UK’s first sea-to-shelf production facility in Edinburgh, enabling nationwide distribution and export to the US and beyond. From the harvesting to sourcing and processing, Mara Seaweed aims to share the health benefits and essential nutrients of seaweed and promote is as a part of an everyday diet.

Fiona Houston says: “To have been accepted onto the Incubator programme is a game-changer for Mara. It will allow us to learn from industry leaders and develop our brand and long-term partnership with the UK’s biggest retailer. It has been an unbelievably hard six years, and could not have achieved without the support of the team at Mara who share the same passion for the brand as I do.”

A Tesco spokesperson added: “It is great to have a really innovative Scottish brand participating in this year’s programme. Mara Seaweed won us over with their ethos and unique approach to healthy eating.  With two-thirds of customers looking for supermarkets to support them to live healthier lives, it’s never been more important for Tesco to offer products that reflect the latest health and wellness trends. Mara is at the forefront of this and we look forward to working with such an invigorating brand.”

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