Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

58 This also was the case with soybeans in the early twentieth century. The US soybean industry overcame the price barrier through government investment in soybean innovation by the Department of Agriculture and by levying tariffs on soybean imports in the 1930s (Du Bois, 2008). The US most likely will not introduce kelp tariffs, but kelp innovation, in an effort to lower Alaska’s production costs, would be beneficial for entering the hydrocolloid market. Kelp offers many nutritional benefits in which consumers would potentially be interested. As with most foods, there tends to be some disagreement on the health benefits provided from consuming kelp or other seaweeds. While some researchers say that kelp has promise addressing obesity, cardiovascular mortality, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes, more research is needed. The nutritional benefits of kelp, however, are known. Kelp is a source of iodine, potassium, calcium, and iron (Kim & Bhatnager, 2011). It also is a source of dietary fiber, pure protein, and all essential amino acids (Brownlee et al., 2011). Advertising kelp as healthy or nutritional would boost demand for kelp as a whole food for domestic consumers. Toward the end of the twentieth century, consumers increasingly valued food as a way to improve their health. So-called functional foods and superfoods have an expanding global market, with the US making up the largest segment. Marketing foods as superfoods can garner from a 50% to 500% price premium. Consumers, especially educated, health-conscious women, are willing to pay for perceived health benefits of superfoods. This effect is limited, however, by consumer taste preferences. Health benefits alone will not convince consumers to try a new food, but they are seen as an added benefit (Siró et al., 2008). Green marketing, the practice of integrating environmental sustainability into advertising, is another avenue for marketing kelp to American consumers. Awareness of climate change has risen dramatically in the last decades, which has led to green marketing bolstering sales of advertised products (Polonsky, 1994). While green marketing does not necessarily indicate that any environmental benefit is actually being achieved, for kelp, that marketing would be truthful. Kelp does have environmental benefits, and consumers respond to this approach. Branding kelp products as “sustainable,” “renewable,” and “eco-friendly” is a good strategy to get kelp products on plates. The biggest challenge for marketing Alaskan kelp is the lack of existing domestic markets. The strategies discussed previously have the potential to expand the domestic market, but establishing existing kelp markets has been tedious for seaweed producers. It would require expensive promotion campaigns to enact these strategies. Marketing kelp to Asian consumers may prove easier as there is an established seaweed market and consumer base. Kelp Environmental Potential Kelp farming has many potential environmental impacts. Kelp could be used to mitigate ocean acidification and ocean dead zones. Kelp farms also can help restore the habitat of marine animals. Finally, kelp can be grown and sunk as a method of carbon capture. There are other ways kelp may be beneficial for the environment, one of them being using kelp as a biofuel, but the kelp industry in the US has not reached a scale where using kelp this way would be economically viable, although there is promising research. Kelp as a Carbon Sink Kelp has the potential to capture around 1500 metric tons of CO2 per square kilometer per year, or about 6 tons of CO2 per acre per year. Although the scope of current seaweed aquaculture used for carbon capture is small, the potential is substantial. Paying farmers for the environmental benefits that kelp offers plays an important role in supporting the kelp aquaculture industry (Duarte et al., 2017). This support can happen in the form of carbon credits, or “blue carbon.” Carbon credits exist as a part of a cap-and-trade program, where private companies have an imposed limit on how much carbon they can release, but they can buy credits from verified carbon sinks in order to be allowed to release more carbon. Alaskan kelp farmers can participate in carbon capture because Europe uses a carbon credit system, as does the state of California, but the US has yet to implement such a federal law. The way kelp can directly be used to sequester carbon is to grow the kelp and then sink it about 1000 meters to the bottom of