Krill oil, rich in omega-3, phospholipids and antioxidants, is derived from the planktonic family of crustacean.
Enzymotec entered the market for krill oil in 2007. The firm’s range includes phosphatidylserine-based ingredients it markets for cognitive development, lipids for infant formulas, as well as pure krill oils. The novel foods status granted to Enzymotec’s product is the fourth krill approval of its kind in Europe.
Europe's Novel Food regulation was introduced in 1997 and requires any food or ingredient not commonly consumed in the EU prior to May 1997 to undergo safety assessment before it can be sold across the EU's 27-member bloc.
It is a notoriously long-winded and unpopular process that has been much criticised by industry for stalling innovation, but the European Commission has mooted that it will be simplified or streamlined or both.
Krill are tiny shrimp commonly eaten by whales, and which form the largest animal biomass in the world. Omega-3 rich krill oil harvested for human purposes accounts for less than one per cent of that biomass.
The minute crustaceans have been in the public eye of late, over concerns that certain krill fishery was not being conducted in a sustainable manner.
US-based natural foods retailer Whole Foods pulled krill supplements from its shelves, stating that “declines of some predator populations in the areas where the krill fishery operates suggest that fishery management needs to better understand how to evaluate the prey requirements of other marine species in order to set sustainable catch levels for krill.”
Enzymotec confirmed its krill products are sustainably harvested. It sources its products only from vessels and facilities monitored by Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), it said.
"We are inspecting and verifying that each Krill shipment is harvested within the limits of the zone and dates for which the specific fishing vessels had received its fishing license from CCALMR," said Neta Scheinman Enzymotec's Director of QA.
Demand prompts expansion
Last year, Enzymotec announced the expansion its krill capacity in a move that would consolidate its production in a new 200,000 sq ft facility. This was in response to increased customer demand, the firm said at the time.
In 2008, the firm also expanded its product line to include a krill oil with modified phospholipids and omega-3 content, which it sells at a "significantly lower price" to its high-grade version.
Having a two-tier pricing system for its krill offerings, in addition to its other lipid ingredients, allowed the company to better compete with the likes of global krill market leader, Canadian-based Neptune Technologies & Bioressources.