About FMC Rockland
Rockland Maine has been home since 1936 of one of the world’s leading seaweed-based businesses. The FMC BioPolymer plant produces carrageenan, derived from seaweed, to provide innovative applications for global food processors. The products meet demanding texture requirements and multiple other applications, such as binding agents for toothpaste.
The manufacturing process includes several steps to create these useful products.
Our History and Maine Roots in Crockett’s Point
Today, FMC BioPolymer’s Rockland Facility is the only manufacturer of carrageenan in North America. Its history is bound to the Rockland waterfront location known as Crockett’s Point. Their story is one of development and diversity.
Algin Corporation of America opened for business on December 12, 1936. Victor LeGloahec began his enterprise on Crockett’s Point where the Rockland and Lime Company had processed and stored lime. Algin Corporation used the brown seaweed known as kelp to make alginate, which was used as a food additive.
In 1945, the company began work with carrageenan, another food additive extracted from red seaweed. The following year, Algin Corporation suffered a setback when fire destroyed the production building and damaged some of the offices.
Algin Corporation merged with Seaplant Corporation in 1959. The new company was called Marine Colloids Inc. Seaplant, located in New Bedford, Massachusetts, manufactured carrageenan by a different process (roll drying) than that used by Algin corporation (which used alcohol precipitation). Shortly after the merger, Seaplant’s roll drying technology was moved to Rockland.
Prior to 1970, most of the seaweed used to produce carrageenan came from Canada (primarily Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), Maine, and Massachusetts. In 1971, seaweed farms from the Philippines began to provide a significant portion of the raw material for carrageenan, but is only one of many global locations that brings the over 25 million pounds of seaweed each year to Crockett’s Point.
FMC Corporation of Chicago, Illinois, purchased Marine Colloids Inc. in 1977, creating Marine Colloids Division. Litex A/S manufactured carrageenan.
During the 1990s, FMC reorganized several times. Marine Colloids Division became Food Ingredients Division and later FMC BioPolymer. FMC BioBolymer includes carrageenan operations in Rockland, Maine, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Cebu, the Philippines, along with FMC’s microcrystalline cellulose facility in Newark, Delaware and a company in Norway, which manufactures alginate.