The agreement sees the Malmo-based firm add the active lipid to its portfolio, making available the plant-based source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) to the global infant formula industry.
AAK’s range of plant-based oil solutions for infant nutrition includes INFAT, a SN2 palmitate ingredient that mimics the fat structure and properties of human milk fat and Akonino Phospholipid, naturally sourced from omega-3 (DHA) and omega-6 (ARA)-rich egg yolk.
“This partnership means we can offer infant formula manufacturers a plant-based DHA oil that meets the highest demands on quality,” says Dr Raimund Hoenes, AAK’s Head of Global Special Nutrition.
“Our algal DHA also has neutral taste and colour, which is difficult to achieve with alternatives based on fish oil.”
The agreement also brings into play Progress Biotech’s knowhow in logistics as Hoenes remarks on the Netherlands-based firm’s shared values on ’quality, sustainable sourcing, and the importance of a flexible supply chain.’
“By combining the strengths of our companies, we bring an exceptional offer to the market,” he adds.
Progress Biotech’s EU approval
Founded in 2011, Progress Biotech, located in Capelle aan den IJssel in The Netherlands, gained EU approval for their algal oil in infant formula back in April of this year, following a favourable Scientific Opinion published by EFSA in October 2020.
The algal oil in question originates from its propriety strain of Schizochytrium and has been available since 2014 following a first novel food approval for its use in food products.
Jaap Peters, Progress Biotech’s founder, says of the latest agreement, “I am proud that AAK has chosen to partner with Progress Biotech to take our algal oil to the global infant formula market.
“We now look forward to working closely with AAK in growing the DHA algal oil business.”
Plant-based DHA, particularly as a central ingredient in infant formula is proving popular amongst its makers, due to sustainability credentials that include a lower environmental impact than fish-sourced DHA.
While the microalgae is sourced from the sea, its actual production takes place in a closed environment that ensures quality levels and purity, with any environmental impact strictly controlled and minimised.
Momentum from consumers eager to purchase formula products with an emphasis on plant-based ingredients has prompted larger ingredient specialists to react in kind with their own offerings.
‘Premium’ infant formula
The inclusion of such ingredients adds credence to the emergence of the ‘premiumisation’ of infant formula offerings, where adding ingredients like sustainable sourced-omega-3 fatty acids, pre- and probiotics, and additional HMOs are proving popular with a more health conscious consumer.
Market analysts Euromonitor has identified the emergence of hypo-allergenic milk formula, organic, as well as goat milk formula as another direction firms are taking to enhance current offerings.
Global nutrition giant Royal DSM, has recently made available microbial DHASCO-B and ARASCO powders, offering sustainable and vegetarian sources of DHA omega-3 and ARA omega-6 for infant nutrition.
Likewise, Fermentalg celebrated the news in August that its microalgae derived, omega-3 rich Schizochytrium sp. oil was permitted for use as a novel food in food supplements, infant and follow-on formula.
Schizochytrium sp, is proving popular as an alternative to fish oils due to its rapid growth rate, its weather condition independency and its DHA content, which make up almost 49% of its total fat content.