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Family-run island company targets worldwide sales growth with its hand-harvested seaweed products

Northern Ireland is famous for its appetite for Dulse, but now firms like Ocean Veg are targeting much more exotic markets. Marketed under the brand 'Islander Kelp', the firm sells species known as Laminaria Digitata, Saccharina Latissima and Alaria Esculantaand, which are hand-harvested, sorted, blanched and vacuum-packed at a facility on Rathlin Island and sold ready-to-use to restaurants, specialist delis and seafood buyers.

Company co-founder Benji McFaul is a qualified skipper who looks after at sea operations and harvesting.

His mum, managing director Kate Burns, has spent most of her life on Rathlin Island and has been involved in rural and marine development for many years, running her own consultancy from 2007 to 2013.

She has also run her own restaurant and interpretive tours business on Rathlin as well as raising her family.

Brenda Morgan, British Airways partnership manager for Northern Ireland, said that the firm was pleased to support the company's export plans.

"It is fantastic to see how Ocean Veg Ireland Ltd has taken advantage of British Airways' flight support that they received as an Export Challenge-winning company to grow their international contacts and business trading opportunities on their recent trip to Japan," she said.

"At British Airways, it remains a key focus for the airline to support the growth of local companies into new export markets to facilitate the opportunity for them to showcase the world-class products and services that Northern Ireland has to offer.

"We wish Ocean Veg every success for 2015."

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI trade director, said the firm was an inspiration, adding: "It's immensely encouraging to see how Ocean Veg has used the support package they received from the Export Challenge Competition to research how they can break into new overseas markets."