Commercial omega-3 harvesting expansion triggers Calanus’ €18m facility investment

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

C. finmarchicus produces astaxanthin, which gives Calanus Oil a dark red colour. ©Calanus
C. finmarchicus produces astaxanthin, which gives Calanus Oil a dark red colour. ©Calanus
Norwegian biomarine company Calanus is to invest in a new production facility in anticipation of an increase in demand for the company's Calanus finmarchicus products.

The production facility, located above the Arctic Circle in Sortland, northern Norway, is a 2750 square metre factory initially employing ten people. It has a total investment budget of €18m, of which €7m is to be financed with equity. Annual stage 1 capacity is around 7000 tons of raw material.

“The focus of the production is biorefining of Calanus finmarchicus, where the main product is Calanus Oil for human consumption,”​ explained Jan Erik Olsen, head of sales and marketing for human Health at Calanus.

“We will also manufacture refined protein products and ingredients intended for a range of both human and animal health & nutrition applications.”

Recent action by the Norwegian government to expand commercial harvesting of Calanus finmarchicus​ are primarily behind Calanus’ expansion plans, who foresee an increasing demand for the company's offerings.

Calanus’ signature product stems from oil extracted from the copepods species that has proved suitable for use in dietary supplement products, functional food ingredients and marine flavours.

The oil has shown a potent anti-inflammatory action as well as a role in improving insulin sensitivity. Researchers recently began a large clinical trial in children diagnosed with cognitive stress.

Precautionary quota set

Calanus factory
Sketch of Calanus´new manufacturing facility. ©Calanus

In a move by the government in April a precautionary quota was set at 254 000 tons per year - significantly lower than the potential sustainable yield according to Calanus.

“We are pleased that the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries has decided to open for commercial harvesting of Calanus finmarchicus​,” said Calanus CEO Gunnar Rørstad.

“The market potential for our unique health and nutrition products has been confirmed, both through strong customer growth in Norway and considerable international interest. To be able to serve existing and future customers, it is absolutely necessary to increase our production capacity.”

Calanus Oil was granted Novel Food approval in the EU in December 2017, having already been launched by several companies in Europe.

“Calanus Oil is approved for sale in the EU, USA and Canada,”​ said Olsen. “Applications are underway in other important markets. We expect two new approvals this year and at least one new in 2020.”

With this species becoming a new sustainable omega-3 fatty acids source for humans, Olsen said its availability is timely with prevalence of obesity skyrocketing worldwide.

“Special products addressing health concerns associated with obesity should be the main focus of the nutraceutical industry,”​ he said.

“It is challenging to communicate innovative health supplements, due to strict health claim regulations, but over the next few years, we aim to have sufficient clinical evidence to apply for an approved health claim within the metabolic health area.

“Meanwhile, it is possible to use formulations to allow product specific health claims to target the most applicable consumers.”

Calanus future plans

On Calanus’ plans, Olsen outlined the firm’s commitment to R&D investment particularly in harvesting equipment and methods, where together with fish vessel owners and research partners, the firm look to optimise raw material flow.

This includes efficient harvesting and gentle on-board handling, with plans to develop new technology to enable efficient oceanic harvesting considered more challenging than harvesting in coastal areas.

Regarding ongoing clinical trials, Olsen commented that Calanus obtained “very interesting”​ early clinical results in the metabolic health area.

The firm are now planning further studies to document effects on blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity in addition to a broad range of other markers of metabolic health.

“Over the next years our ambition is to obtain clinical documentation that justifies a health claim application in accordance with EU and other Authorities' regulation,”​ Olsen added.

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