Although it lags a few years behind the US and Japan, Europe is opening up as an market of potential for astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant derived from the Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae.
Annual growth of the global market for astaxanthin for human use is thought to be at least 15 per cent, with current estimates valuing the market at $15-20m (€12.4-16.6m) per year.
The Swedish-based company recently expanded its production capacity in order to meet demand, with the installation of new bioreators in which the algae is grown under intensive, fully-controlled conditions.
It now has the capacity to produce "several tonnes of biomass per year". åke Lignel, general manager of BioReal Sweden, told NutraIngredients.com that the notification, filed on May 17, has been transferred to all member states and there has been no objections raised.
"BioReal can therefore now offer natural astaxanthin as either algal biomass or as an oleoresin extract," he said.
Lignell said that Fuji Chemical Group, of which Bioreal Sweden is the European branch, is the only company that can offer algal biomass and extract approved for use in food supplements in US, Japan and Europe.
However Hawaiian-based astaxanthin producer Cyanotech has also applied for substantial equivalence approval in Europe for its product, and last month the UK Food Standards Agency' independent Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes called for views on the application.
Fuji has world patents for the use of astaxanthin in physical and muscle endurance, gastric health, fertility and for the immune system disorder Crohn's disease. It also has a patent pending for eye fatigue and visual acuity.
Valensa (formerly US Nutra) holds both US and world patents for its use in retarding and ameliorating central nervous system and eye damage, and Cyanotech holds three patents - for carpal tunnel syndrome, for cold and canker sores, and as an internal and topical sunblock to prevent skin damage from UV radiation.