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Cargill Carrageenans


Carrageenans for innovative textures

The functionality of carrageenans was first discovered more than six hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, Irish moss was used in Carraghen on the south Irish coast for medicinal and food purposes. It was particularly known for its unique property of gelling milk. Also on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany in France it was used for its gelling properties. With bleached lichen or "goémon blanc" (blanc-mange), flans were made simply by cooking seaweed in milk.

It was not until after the Second World War, however, that extracts were manufactured industrially. Although originally only extracted from Irish moss, today Carrageenans are manufactured from numerous red seaweed species.

Cargill's offer

Cargill offers one of the widest ranges of commercially available carrageenans, employing proven production processes and using a large variety of different types of red seaweeds (Rhodophyceae) from the Gigartinales group.

Cargill sources red seaweed from four different continents. The main varieties used are:

  • Gigartina
  • Chondrus
  • Iridaea
  • Eucheuma

Together with Cargill's recognized formulation expertise, this enables the formulation of commercial carrageenan products tailored to very specific needs in different applications.

Cargill's carrageenan products are available under the following trademarks:

Cargill brand name


Satiagel™ Gelling extracts: food, personal care and pharma grades
Satiagum™ Thickening extract: food, personal care and pharma grades
Aubygel™ Gelling P.E.S.: food grades
Cargill has expanded its Satiagel™ offer with the Seabrid™ range for dairy applications. The Seabrid™ range is based on 100% farmed seaweed fractions, yet enables premium textures comparable to those obtained from wild seaweed fractions. A further expansion of the Seabrid™ range into other applications is planned.

The Red Seaweed Promise

To ensure sustainable sourcing of our offer Cargill has established the Red Seaweed Promise. Further information on the program can be found here.


Category Applications

Stabilization of chocolate drinks and creams, dairy desserts, like gelled milks, flans, multi-layered desserts, mousses, cheese specialties

Fruit Fruit preparations for yogurt, water jellies, glazes
Meat Brine injections (hams, poultry), Fat reduction (hamburgers), Canned foods: in combination with locust bean gum for human and pet food
Ice cream

In combination with guar gum, locust bean gum and alginates

Powder products Homemade flans, Dessert, custard and bakery creams
Non-food applications Toothpaste and cosmetics, Air fresheners
Pharmaceuticals & neutraceuticals Excipients, Soft gels


More information 


Carrageenans are polysaccharides made of galactose units with different levels of sulfate substitution. Their sulfate content is between 15 and 40%. Many red seaweeds contain mixtures of such polysaccharides. In carrageenans, all the galactose units occur in the D form.

Depending on the number of sulfate groups per galactose molecule, three types of carrageenan molecules can be distinguished:

  • Kappa carrageenan: 1 sulfate unit for two galactose molecules
  • Iota carrageenan: 2 sulfate units for two galactose molecules
  • Lambda carrageenan: 3 sulfate units for two galactose molecules

It should be noted that carrageenan macromolecules are not homogeneous chains made up of the same repetitive units, but they are heterogeneous, either due to differing molecular structures within the chains or due to differing chains within the seaweed. For example, some carrageenans extracted from South American seaweeds are kappa and iota hybrids, also called kappa 2 or weak kappa carrageenans.

Lambda carrageenan is cold soluble and acts simply as a thickening agent.

Gelling carrageenans require heat treatment for dissolution. When cooling down, the macromolecules have a tendency to spontaneously associate, thus creating junction zones required for a gel.

Being very diverse, carrageenans can broadly be classified into three main “ideal” types of carrageenan, split into two groups:

  • Gelling carrageenans: products rich in kappa and iota fractions
  • Thickening carrageenans: products rich in lambda fractions

Gelation of kappa carrageenan is particularly enhanced by the potassium ion. It induces gel formation at very low concentrations. Because of its small hydro-dynamic size when hydrated, the potassium ion fits into the coil and partially neutralizes the sulfate groups. Thus, the double-helices can cluster together and form aggregates that create a strong, brittle, gel.


kappa fraction

Kappa (k) 1 sulfate for 2 sugar units


The iota carrageenan network is formed by a series of double-helices and kinks that form a transparent, elastic gel. This loosely connected network can easily be destroyed by mechanical action. However, it reforms quickly once the mechanical action has stopped. This property is called " thixotropy " and is very useful in certain applications, such as cold-filled dairy desserts.

iota fraction

Iota (i) 2 sulfate for 2 sugar units


Lambda carrageenans can be used as thickening agents only, since due to electrostatic repulsion, the chains of lambda carrageenan do not have a tendency to self-associate. They can thus be easily separated from each other.

lambda fraction

Lambda (l) 3 sulfate for 2 sugar units


Regulatory status

European legislation clearly distinguishes carrageenan (E 407) from Processed Eucheuma Seaweed (P.E.S.) (E 407a - a semi refined carrageenan as described below), using the acid insoluble matter as the main criteria for differentiation.

FAO/WHO - Codex Alimentarius

Carrageenan and P.E.S. have been given an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of “not specified” by the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).

European Union

Carrageenan (E 407) and P.E.S. (E 407a) are listed in Annex I of the European Parliament and Council Directive 95/2/EC of 20th February 1995 on food additives, and may be used at “quantum satis” in many food categories.    

United States

The FDA recognizes carrageenan and P.E.S. as permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 21, § 172.620).

Cargill's global team of regulatory and food law experts will be glad to provide assistance on regulatory, nutrition-related claims and food law-related issues.


Industrial production of refined carrageenan consists of three main steps:

  • Extraction in alkaline conditions
  • Purification by separating the gum from insoluble impurities
  • Carrageenan recovery (precipitation in alcohol or gelation of filtrate in presence of potassium chloride, drying then milling)

manufacture flowchart

Semi-refined carrageenan, or P.E.S., differs from refined carrageenan in two main respects. 

Firstly, the only permitted raw material for P.E.S. is Eucheuma Seaweed. Secondly, it is obtained by simple alkaline treatment (no extraction and no filtration).

Production site

Cargill started its carrageenan production in 1956 in Baupte, Normandy, France using the local seaweed (Chondrus Crispus).

Today, Cargill's production facility in France is amongst the most advanced in the world. Highly sophisticated manufacturing processes are employed to ensure a fast and flexible response to customers' requirements.

Cargill manufactures carrageenans at the following site: 

  • Baupte (France) ISO 9001:2008 - FSSC 22000:2013 certified

Each production batch is produced under controlled conditions to ensure consistent  performance in application in compliance with our ISO certifications.

Certification system

Cargill carrageenans produced in Europe are Kosher and Halal certified. All regional, national and international certifications are issued by well-known official certification bodies and available upon request.

Depth of expertise

With over 50 years of experience, we have acquired a thorough knowledge of all relevant technologies in carrageenan manufacture and formulation. Our expertise is based on our knowledge of both the specific characteristics of carrageenans and the requirements of a broad spectrum of industries and functionality, resulting in specially tailored products optimized for different applications.

The manufacturing of carrageenan in all its varieties requires a high level of production expertise.

Cargill's worldwide sourcing of seaweed ensures the supply of a broad spectrum of properties and functionalities in its carrageenan raw materials.

The plants use the latest extraction, separation and drying technologies and are designed to produce the full range of carrageenans (refined alcohol process, refined KCl process and P.E.S.).

Each processing stage is performed under tight quality controls. The reproduction of commercial products is ensured by strict formula controls and exact monitoring conditions.

Partners in success

Helping your business succeed by differentiating you from your competitors is our primary goal.

In Cargill’s carrageenan business, we take time to understand your specific needs in order to provide solutions, not just products. Worldwide customers recognize this and benefit from our:

  • Modern plants using the latest extraction, separation and drying technologies
  • Wide range of applications from thickening to gelling properties
  • Specialty and customized products
  • Industry-specific solutions designed for the particular needs of the meat, dairy, confectionery, bakery and personal care industries

Helping your business succeed by differentiating you from your competitors is our primary goal.


Some Cargill products are only approved for use in certain geographies, end uses, and/or at certain usage levels. It is the customer's responsibility to determine, for a particular geography, that (i) the Cargill product, its use and usage levels, (ii) the customer's product and its use, and (iii) any claims made about the customer's product, all comply with applicable laws and regulations.