ARA (arachidonic acid) is an omega 6 fatty acid that occurs naturally in human breast milk, and has been researched fro its role in babies’ mental and visual development. Martek’s ARA is derived from Mortierella alpine and also contains longer-chain omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
Known as Life’s ARA, Martek’s ingredient is already used in more than 95 per cent of the infant formula sold in the US in conjunction with DHA omega-3, according to the company. It also has a presence in some 75 countries worldwide.
The latest deal covers use of the ARA, known as Life’sARA, in infant formulas and ‘growing up milk’ made by Lactalis and sold in France and Algeria.
Financial details and the precise length of the agreement have not been disclosed, but the deal is a demonstration of Martek’s international extension.
“Our partnership with Lactalis further demonstrates that companies worldwide understand the importance of adding Martek's ARA to infant formula for infant health and development," said Ethan Leonard, vice president of pediatric nutrition for Martek.
Lactalis Nutrition Sante is the nutrition division of French dairy group Lactalis, which has an overall turnover of €9.2bn. Its infant product brands are Picot and Celia. It also manufactures private label nutrition products for other companies.
Use of fatty acids in infant formulas is driven by a desire to replicate the nutritional properties of breast milk as closely as possible so that babies who cannot – for whatever reason – receive their mother's milk are not at a nutritional disadvantage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends minimal infant consumptionof 40mg/kg/day for ARA and 20mg/kg/day for DHA for infants.