Fish oil-based supplements are one of the fastest-growing categories in the nutrition industry, driven by evidence of their health benefits to the heart, as well as cognition and metabolism. All of the major fish oil producers have struggled to meet demand, with many announcing significant expansion plans in recent months.
Yet many of the marine-derived supplements on the market still contain fishy odours that put consumers off, claims Cultech.
In a departure from the common fish oil softgels, it has developed a syrup-like, flavoured emulsion that has already been a success in Canada, where it was introduced earlier this year.
Another variant, an orange-flavoured fish oil, which is also bottled like a tonic, has become the best-selling product at US supplement company Pharmax within three months of its launch, Pablo Abrahams, business manager at Cultech, told NutraIngredients.com."We think this is the best fish oil on the market," he said, unveiling the products at the Vitafoods tradeshow in Geneva this week.
Wales-based Cultech buys in fish oil that has been deodorised using a proprietary technology. The firm then freezes the oil using its own process, also applied to a range of other nutritional oils such as cranberry seed, to turn it into powder.
But while in R&D, technicians also realised that the halfway step, or emulsion phase of the process, could be useful.
"Some people just don't like taking capsules and they may not like the oily texture," said Abrahams.
The emulsion is like a thick, cough syrup, which has "real mass market appeal", believes Abrahams. Designed initially for children who did not want to swallow capsules, the product is also very popular with adults, he said.
Cultech has also added fruit flavours to both the emulsion and the standard, deodorised oil.
"We talk to brands all the time and it is difficult to come up with something new," added Abrahams.
But the company, which claims to be the biggest encapsulator of probiotics in Europe, has been working hard on novel delivery formats. It has also developed a multivitamin liquid spray, joining only a handful of vitamin spray makers in the market, and a sustained release garlic tablet for an American client.
The sustained release technology, which could be applied to other nutrients, means that the antimicrobial effects of garlic could be felt as far along the digestive process as the intestine.