Is it time to swap salt for…seaweed?

A Black Country company has launched a new product to help reduce risk of stroke and heart-related diseases by encouraging people to swap salt for seaweed.

SALTernative, based in Walsall, has developed a new salt substitute using Kombu seaweed which has been imported from Taiwan seas, in a bid to cut the number of strokes and raised blood pressure in the UK.

Life-long friends Nitesh Mall and Andrew Vanezis have joined forces to ship thousands of tins of Kombu seaweed a month from the Far East to the UK and they have already signed up 500 UK outlets, from health stores to pharmacies, including a recent listing in Harrods Pharmacy.

The duo, who have been backed by Birmingham-based investor Daljit Birdi, now have their sights set on persuading supermarkets to stock the seaweed; a move which could boost sales to between 10,000 and 15,000 tins a month.

Nitesh, 28, from Sutton Coldfield, said: “If everyone were to cut a gram of salt out daily, it could save 6,000 lives a year in the UK. Kombu seaweed contains 92% less sodium than table salt, there is a massive opportunity in commercialising the product for consumers.

“Eliminating salt from Indian cooking, for example, is very hard. But when we tested the seaweed it worked a treat. The thought of seaweed in food may not be appealing to everyone but we wanted to see if it would work in the mass market and so far, we have had a positive response.

“We feel we are the only ones in the UK market heavily pushing a seaweed-based product as a salt alternative. We are currently pushing up to a figure of 3,000 to 4,000 tins a month and we are looking to reach between 10,000 and 15,000 a month by March.”

The friends have also agreed a corporate partnership deal with national charity Blood Pressure UK.

Nitesh said: “Our partnership collaboratively looks to educate UK consumers on the risks of high blood pressure, and to offer consumers a healthier alternative, where they find it difficult to remove salt in their cooking.”

But profitability is not the new firm’s only goal.

“One in three adults suffer from high blood pressure and salt is the biggest culprit. If we can create a business that helps the UK population and is a viable business that is a win-win situation. It is a good feeling that you can help people’s lives,” added Nitesh.

The new firm’s commercial director, Daljit Birdi has bolstered the seaweed initiative by ploughing investment into the business while Nitesh and Andrew are aiming to broaden their horizons still further with an export drive in Europe, the United States and Russia.