Case Study: Uist Asco Seaweed

Industry Sectors:


Type of Finance:

Asset Based Lending




1 August 2015

Uisst Asco Seaweed

Camels in Dubai and birds and fish in Indonesia are set to be early beneficiaries of the health-giving properties of Uist seaweed, now that Uist Asco’s processing factory at Cnoc An Locha is fully commissioned.

The factory is an ingenious ‘repurposing’ of the former MacIain quarry to the north-west of North Uist. In an integrated operation unique in Northern Europe, Uist Asco makes use of local pine forest as biomass to power the massive boiler which uses water from a nearby loch to create the heat to dry bladderwrack (ascophyllum nodosum) harvested from within a ten mile radius by local cutters.

It has been a three year odyssey full of challenges and sleepless nights to get to this point for Uist Asco’s founder, Raghnall MacIain. His family own the forest and the quarry –but these advantages were eclipsed by a seemingly Everest-sized mountain of hurdles to overcome before the first seaweed finally fell, dried and milled, into sacks ready to send out to clients last month.

To get to this point has required private finance of more than £1million, with the past nine months a fraught exercise in waiting for plant to arrive and be successfully commissioned. As the first batch of seaweed emerged crisp and pristine from the drier, Mr MacIain said he could at last look forward to fulfilling a busy order book for clients who have been waiting patiently as Uist Asco battled to co-ordinate suppliers and engineers to commission the massive boiler, drier and milling machine.

The demand for dried seaweed is truly global. The humble plant from the shorelines of Uist even looks set to become part of the diet of camels in Dubai and fish and bird food in Indonesia.

Mr MacIain said:

“Our biggest selling point is clean seaweed as we use heat exchangers, so there is no combustion residue in the seaweed.”

He said:

“Our very first client is Angus Horticulture, which supplies garden centres and places like golf courses and bowling greens. They want five tonnes initially and as much as they can get after that. “Animal food using finely milled seaweed is another big market for us, and there is a company in England looking to extract further chemicals from it.

“China is a massive market, they want as much as they can get and they’re not fussy Uist seaweed goes global as North Uist factory begins production at the heart of the Community.”

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Working Capital Partners Ltd

Working Capital Partners Ltd helps businesses improve their cash flow by offering selective invoice, trade & import, export and SME trade-flow finance.

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