Zivo, based in Keego Harbor, MI, has engaged NutriQuest LLC as a partner in the feed ingredient development. Two studies conducted by NutriQuest were said to show “encouraging results” for the use of its proprietary strain of algal biomass in feed for broiler chickens “under several real-world challenges.”
The feed angle is another attempt by the company to more rapidly commercialize its algal strain on which it has been worked for a number of years. Zivo has followed a long and winding road, having first started life as company known as Health Enhancement Products Inc. HEPI was said to be developing a number of bioactive molecules from a proprietary species of algae. It seems to be common in the algae industry, though, that however promising the concept, the goal of market entry continues to recede in the distance like a desert mirage. CEO Andrew Dahl came on board in 2012 with a brief to rationalize the product development process.
GRAS submission still hanging fire
The next hurdle for the company is to get GRAS approval for its ingredient for use in human nutrition. Dahl said continuing work on how best to grow and process the algal strain has complicated that process, however.
“We are still finishing up our GRAS submission. We hoped we would have been done by now, but we have had to reconfigure some of our stability parameters,” Dahl told NutraIngredients-USA.
Zivo now says it is “currently finalizing compliance for its algal biomass as a food ingredient” while it also works toward fulfilling the regulatory requirements as a feed ingredient. Late 2017 or early 2018 is now pegged as the earliest date for the target for convening a GRAS panel for the review of a self-affirmed dossier. The company says it plans to follow that with a New Dietary Ingredient notification, but did not specify a target date on that procedure.
It’s somewhat unusual for a development stage company to be so forthright with planned dates for regulatory submissions, given that unexpected hurdles can present themselves, and already have for Zivo. It never looks good to miss deadlines, but Zivo, after its long development cycle, is under a certain amount of pressure from investors. Zivo successfully restructured its debt earlier this year with its primary creditor, HEP Investments. The new deal puts the maturity date out to September of 2018 and allows Zivo to tap into an additional $4.5 million in credit.
Whole algal biomass now the target
Last year, the company announced a strategic shift toward marketing an ingredient based on the whole algal biomass as a path to market with a shorter development cycle. With its interesting blend of high protein content (47%) and a rich suite of vitamins and minerals and reportedly mild taste, the ingredient was touted as a potential base for ‘green’ health drinks, Dahl said, to go along with the poultry feed application.
Zivo, which is a technology licensing company rather than a direct algae grower, has lined up two production partners, Synthethic Genomics in the US and Spanish algae producer Algatek Asturias SL for potential entry into the European markets.
There is some precedent for development stage algae companies to pivot into animal feed. Earlier this year Heliae announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell its entire whole algal biomass production to an aquaculture operator.