Health claims hole fails to dampen astaxanthin growth

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition functional beverage beverage

Algatechnologies is launching AstaPure 5% natural astaxanthin oleoresin and is lloking to win the category's first health claim. Image: Algatechnologies
Algatechnologies is launching AstaPure 5% natural astaxanthin oleoresin and is lloking to win the category's first health claim. Image: Algatechnologies
Algatechnologies is targeting the food supplements sector with a new grade of natural astaxanthin oleoresin, as interest in the carotenoid as a skin, eye and heart health ingredient builds.

Algatech is launching AstaPure 5% natural astaxanthin oleoresin. The Israeli biotech company already produces natural astaxanthin from micro-algae in 10% and 15% concentrations, but said the addition of a lower concentration oleoresin would allow customers“more flexibility in product formulation development​.

“AstaPure 5% natural astaxanthin oleoresin can be used in all forms of oil soluble supplements and any type of softgels and liquid caps,​ Efrat Kat, director of marketing and sales for Algatech, told NutraIngredients.

The food supplements space is already a fertile breeding ground for astaxanthin-based introductions, with the absence of supporting EU-approved health claims doing little to dampen demand.

Product launches up 50% in three years

According to Innova Market Insights, the number of product launches tracked globally with astaxanthin increased by 50% between 2011 and 2014, and 90% of these products were food supplements.

Data from the market research company showed that North America was by far the largest marketplace for astaxanthin products, accounting for 62% of product launches since 2011. However, it reported that Europe was the fastest growing market; the number of astaxanthin-based introductions in the region soared by 36% between 2013 and 2014.

It found that skin health was the number one claim for products containing astaxanthin, featuring on 28% of product launches, closely followed by eye health and heart health.

EU-approved claim still important

Algatechnologies' closed-pipe Negev desert facility in southern Israel

Whilst the market appears unconcerned that astaxanthin’s purported health benefits have not been recognised by regulators, Algatech confirmed that it does have a health claim in its sights under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).

“One of our objectives is to file for health claims in the EU. This is obviously in the joint interest of all natural algae astaxanthin manufacturers and we, as one of the founding members of NAXA [Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association], hope to promote it,​said Kat.

Asked what benefits the carotenoid was thought to deliver, Kat said: “Natural astaxanthin is a very potent antioxidant. Astaxanthin has been found to have beneficial effects in many health conditions related to central nervous system disorders, skin health, joint health and muscle endurance as well as the cardiovascular, immune, eye and other systems.

5% of what?

Algatech’s astaxathin is extracted from the algae biomass using a proprietary high pressure CO2 technology, which yields an oleoresin that is an extract of all lipids naturally available in the microalgae.

“By controlling the extraction parameters we can standardise the astaxanthin content,​ explained Kat.

The 5% is active astaxanthin oleoresin, the remaining 95% is other naturally occurring carotenoids produced from the extraction, along with other oils, said Kat.

In addition to the new 5% complex, Algatech has developed several new formulations for use in functional food and beverages, all scheduled to launch in early 2016.

“Astaxanthin is an ideal active ingredient in functional food and beverage products such as gummies, yogurts, beverages and nutrition bars,​ said Kat.

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