Verification tech aims to bring ultimate transparency to omega-3 industry
The founders of Norway-based global brand Orivo (previously called OmegaVeritas) have built a database of ‘chemical fingerprints’ of the most commercially available omega-3 sources across the globe, testing its authenticity testing capabilities and building a portfolio of clients. But now the team is ready to take its technology to the masses with the hope of making omega-3 supplements a 100% trusted and transparent market as these values become 'have to have' for market success.
Ole Kristian Sakkestad, VP of global sales, explains that this service is more relevant today than ever before.
“Nielsen recently reported on the effect of coronavirus on consumers’ buying habits and revealed that consumers are flocking to bigger brands rather than smaller ones, as the bigger ones are the ones that have earned consumers’ trust.
“This issue of trust is not a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘have to have’ or you will not be able to survive in the world we live in today.”
He explains that while many other omega-3 certification schemes concentrate on ensuring sustainability of fisheries through documentation approval, Orivo takes a hands-on, science based analytical approach to test the end product to determine origin and species.
“We are the only company in the world that can scientifically prove the origin and species used in the oils. No other certification scheme can do that.”
Those who sign up to with Orivo will go through a certification process, after which they can display the Orivo authenticity logo on their packaging alongside a four digit code which consumers can input into Orivo’s website to read all about the origin of the supplement.
Sakkestad explains that the symbol can be seen as a species and origin guarantee for end users.
“We go beyond the paper trail,” he explains. “We look at what the consumer puts in their body, making our certification more meaningful to the consumer. Not only do we support consumers need for transparency by guaranteeing origin and species, we also support the sustainability aspect as it helps consumers to find out for themselves, not just the origin and species, but if they are buying product that are from sustainable fish sources.”
He says if a company is found to be declaring a different source to what is really in their supplement this could be due to any number of factors throughout the supply chain and it may be that they are accidentally misleading customers.
“Sometimes brands are the innocent party. There are quite a few intermediaries involved in the supply chain so often there is something in the middle of the supply chain going wrong. We can offer brands an extra layer of quality assurance.”
Erik Fuglseth, Orivo’s co-founder and CTO, explains the company utilises NMR technology to discover the origin of omega-3 oils.
“An NMR-instrument is based on practically the same technology as an MRI scanner. It stands for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance but they remove the N when its used on humans as the inclusion of the word 'Nuclear' makes the machine sound too scary.
“This technology is commonly used in the chemical industry as well.
“We use sophisticated algorithms – similar to those used by Facebook or Google to recognise web-user patterns – to create a unique chemical fingerprint for each species and we have developed a huge fingerprint database through which we can match the samples in order to verify species and origin.”
Fuglseth explains that a big part of omega-3 supplements sold today is from fish oil concentrates where the natural fingerprint of the oil has been altered. Therefore the company has also analysed the oil produced by the Chilean omega-3 concentrate producer Golden Omega – the only ORIVO certified concentrate producer that sources from one single fishery.
He explains that any brand that sources from more than one fishery won’t be using this as a marketing message on packaging and so Orivo’s service won’t be relevant to them.
But Orivo’s testing goes beyond one-off testing. It administers regular sample batch tests as well as ‘mystery shopper’ style tests of their clients’ products throughout the year.
Expanding and marketing
The company recently built on its interactivity with a QR code that can be placed on products allowing consumers to immediately check the origin authenticity with their phone.
Fuglseth adds that he can imagine the company will be incorporated into blockchain technology when that is more widely used within the industry.
The company is also working with clients to produce marketing campaigns that will help boost awareness of their clients’ products as well as their own work, such as marketing videos for websites, brochure production, editorial and social media campaigns.