King Island Kelp industry
Contact: John Roedeiger
Street: PO Box 314
Town: Currie King Island
Telephone: 03 6462 1340
Fax: 03 6462 1535
Description: Kelp Industries Pty Ltd is a processing site for receiving, drying and milling stormcast Bull Kelp (Durvillea Pototorum) for local Australian customers and for export to Norway.
Self-employed kelp harvesters hand select plants cast on the rocky shores from predominantly the west coast of the island, deliver them to the factory site using an assortment of utilities and trailers, trucks etc.
They then hang their Kelp plants using 'S' shaped hooks onto poles placed on racks set at a conveniently low level. The Kelp is mechanically lifted from the lower racks and placed in the higher level racks for storage and atmospheric pre-drying. After about two weeks the air-dried Kelp is fed into a wood fired drying system that evaporates sufficient of the residual water to render the Kelp storage-stable, and brittle for milling. Milling then reduces to its granular form. The standard milled product pours into bags each filled with 1 tonne, with the finer sieved material packed into 20kg bags to be sold in the local domestic market. Each Kelp supplier has their contribution weighed separately and is paid on the weight of dry product. Kelp industries gives direct employment to less than ten people. Many times this number are indirectly involved through collecting kelp, haulage, etc. The industry has contributed many millions of dollars into the local economy since its inception. Since 1976 the Company has exported in excess of 80,000 tonnes of dried Bull Kelp, this is equivalent to about half a million wet tons. The majority of production is purchased by FMC Biopolymer who are one of the worlds largest producers of Alginates.