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Dispatches from HIE 2010

Martek discusses algal omega-3 opportunities

By Nathan Gray , 22-Nov-2010
Last updated on 22-Nov-2010 at 13:26 GMT

Martek Bioscience has said it is expanding its omega-3 range by commercializing two new products – a new emulsion version of its vegetarian life’s DHA and a DHA/EPA blend from algal sources.

The US based ingredient supplier said that the new algae-based combination of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) omega-3 has already been developed and will soon be commercialized, adding that the blend will be an “effective alternative to fish oils.”

Opportunities

Highlighting the opportunities for algal DHA omega-3 products at the recent HIE exhibition in Madrid, Martek stated that recent regulatory successes and new research had “added to the accumulating evidence of the commercial viability of DHA products, pointing to a successful future for the omega-3 market.”

Martek highlighted a misconception that fish oil is the sole source of DHA and EPA omega-3’s, but the reason fish are such a good source of omega-3 is because of the omega-3 rich microalgae in their food chain.

By sourcing omega-3 directly from this microalgae, Martek says it can offer a renewable, sustainable vegetarian source of DHA and EPA.

New products

Earlier this year, marketing manager Sarah Sullivan said that the new DHA/EPA product would be derived from the same algae sources that have produced its DHA ingredients since the early 1990s.

Sullivan added that the blend would contain about 35 per cent DHA and 15 percent EPA and target dietary supplements, foods and beverages.

“The move is a response to customer need,” Sullivan said. “We have always known the algae deliver EPA too, so it is building on that.”

Cassie France-Kelly, director or corporate communications at Martek added that the new EPA and DHA blend was a “huge breakthrough”, stating that: “although we still believe DHA is the most important omega-3, for those customers who are interested in the benefits associated with EPA, we now have a pure, fish free option.”

The company also launched an emulsion form of its vegetarian life’s DHA, which it claims will make it easier for manufacturers to create fortified beverages with DHA omega-3.

Martek says the emulsion is designed for acidic and neutral drinks, such as juices smoothies and juice drinks, and remains liquid in frozen storage.

Health claims

The new launches follow the recent boost for the omega-3 market, after EFSA’s latest positive opinions relating to DHA omega-3 health claims, which saw the EFSA panel conclude that a cause and effect relationship is established between the consumption of DHA and the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels, plus the maintenance of brain function and normal vision.

“These recent EFSA opinions are a great first step towards achieving health claims in Europe. We’ve always been confident about the science behind DHA omega-3 and getting past the first stage is testament to the quality of the research. This regulatory news together with our new product developments pipeline means that it’s a very exciting time for Martek” said France-Kelly.

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