Aker BioMarine posts 35% surge in sales of Superba krill oil in Q4, 2011

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Superba krill oil, Antarctica

Aker BioMarine posts 35% surge in sales of Superba krill oil in Q4, 2011
Aker BioMarine has posted a 35% surge in sales of Superba krill oil in the fourth quarter of 2011 – selling a record 70 metric tons compared with 52t in Q4, 2010.

The firm, which is based in Norway but sells a large percentage of its krill oil in the US, posted a 15.6% rise in group revenues to $17.8m in the quarter, largely driven by increased sales of Superba.

New powdered krill oil product

Operating income before depreciation and amortization was $1.25m compared with a $2.3m loss for the same period in 2010, added the firm, which sold 232t of Superba Krill Oil in 2011 compared with 177t in 2010.

“Aker BioMarine and its customers continue to enjoy significant growth for Superba Krill oil, with a 35% year-over-year growth in Q4,” ​said Matts Johansen, executive vice president, sales and marketing.

“In the quarter, five additional customers launched their own krill products based on Superba Krill.”

Aker is also starting to talk to customers about a new proprietary powdered krill product that could be used in tablets and other dry forms or in food products “without using expensive and dilutive microencapsulation technology”, ​revealed​Johansen.

"Our powder development goes very well, and we are currently discussing it with selected customers. And on functional food we are working systematically towards that market, and we believe that segments represent a big opportunity in the future."

Eric Anderson, vice president of sales and marketing, Aker BioMarine Antarctic US, told NutraIngredients-USA: "This is really being driven by our customers. If you have a powder you can get into multi-ingredient formulations, tablets, more food systems and so on, and the number of​ [application] opportunities really multiplies."

Second harvesting vessel to start work in late March

On the operational front, a second harvesting vessel, the Antarctic Sea, is expected to begin harvesting in late March 2012, said the firm.

The vessel, which has been MSC certified, is currently being improved with new processing equipment and gear, said Aker, which harvests its krill in the Southern Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica.

Sustainability factors

Addressing sustainability concerns, Johansen noted that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has granted MSC Certification to Aker BioMarine Antarctic’s fisheries, independently validating its sustainable harvesting and traceability systems.

He added: “Aker collaborates with conservation- and fishery management groups such as WWF-Norway, CCAMLR, MRAG and others, and actively supports ongoing research on the health of the biomass and impact on other wildlife which consume krill in the area which we harvest.

“When Aker BioMarine has reached our capacity for both vessels, the total catch will still be significantly lower than the trigger level, and the trigger level is just one tenth of the quota, well within sustainable levels.”

(Very) slow boat to China

Aker, which struck a deal last year to supply a Chinese customer with large quantities of krill oil over the next five years, hopes to make its first deliveries to China shortly.

However, it admitted it was taking longer than expected to secure the necessary regulatory approvals.

Meticulous work involved in obtaining the licensing and permits necessary to begin deliveries has taken considerably longer than anticipated, and the joint efforts of our customer and Aker BioMarine continue on these issues.”

The rise and rise of krill

US krill oil supplement sales grew nearly 70% in 2011, with most of the growth coming from the food, drug, mass and club store channel, said Anderson.

While some of this could be attributed to growing awareness of the fact that krill delivers omega-3 fatty acids in the highly bio-efficient phospholipid form and contains astaxanthin, it also reflected the fact that consumers were looking for smaller, easier-to-swallow capsules and no fishy burps, he said.

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