NutraIngredients awards winner on why sustainability isn’t just a buzzword

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Award Sustainability

The winner has been announced for NutraIngredients ‘Sustainability Initiative of the Year’ award, and marketing and communications manager for Marinova, Amanda Mackinnon, explains why the company’s ‘Maritech Organic Fucoidan’ is an ingredient range worth the accolade.

Maritech Organic Fucoidans, are a portfolio of novel marine ingredients, produced in Australia.

The high purity seaweed extracts utilising polysaccharides found in various species of algae, are used in a range of functional foods, beverages, and skincare formulations.

Studies have found ​ that fucoidans protect cells through the activation of the host immune responses. The various beneficial pharmacological effects of fucoidan are commonly attributed to its ability to modulate cellular immune function.

Marinova claims that not all fucoidans are the same, with research showing that the bioactivity of fucoidan extracts is dependent largely upon method of extraction and the seaweed species from which the fucoidan has derived.

The company’s USP is their traditional and solvent-free processes which they say yield extracts of superior quality and enhanced bioactivity.

Speaking to NutraIngredients, Mackinnon explains: “Maritech is the world’s only high purity, certified organic fucoidan with global regulatory acceptance. The ingredients represent the new frontier in natural marine ingredients.”

She continues on what inspired the application for the ‘Sustainability Initiative of the Year’ award, stating: “We're very proud that over the last 20 years, we've developed a unique portfolio of natural, sustainable, marine ingredients that are supported by science, and we felt that this award would be fitting recognition for all the effort that's gone in over the past two decades and the commitment to quality and to sustainability that Marinova has maintained during that time.”

Organic process

For Mackinnon, this award comes as due recognition for the company, as Marinova’s commitment to sustainability has been consistently genuine and has underpinned the philosophy of the company. On the fucoidans, she explains: “They are unique, they stand alone, and behind the three factors of purity, certified organic status and regulatory approval, are sustainability initiatives that run throughout the length of the supply chain.”

Organic certification is something that Marinova prioritises. Mackinnon explains that firstly, this is down to consumer demand for natural products, with organic certification as a prerequisite. She also notes that the regulatory process of certification requires certain practices in place that maintain a standard across the board.

But ultimately, it’s the practice that is more important than the label. Mackinnon explains: “Organic processes are supported by rigorous science, and we've also always remained true to that.

“Seaweeds can be very good at removing things from the ocean that we don't want in there, so heavy metals for example.

“For that reason, it’s really important that Marinova only uses wild grain seaweeds harvested from pristine waters, and it's really important that our that our source seaweeds are organic.”

Mackinnon understands that they fill a gap in a very niche market, which is their defining characteristic. She states: “The thing that we hang our hat on, is being the world’s only producer of high purity certified organic fucoidans, and no one else can deliver that.”

Sustainability claims

Mackinnon does address the fact that some companies are quick to tout sustainability as a marketing tool rather than a genuine commitment to environmental practice.

However, she explains: “Once you start digging a little deeper, it doesn't take long to realise that they don't have the certifications that they need to.

“I think consumers and brand owners are wising up to that pretty quickly.”

Mackinnon speaks from a position of experience in what sustainability truly looks like, explaining that for Marinova, sustainability initiatives run throughout their supply-chain.

She says: “Our initiatives run all the way from the wild harvesting of a renewable resource - being the seaweed, through to proprietary green chemistry extraction technology that Marinova uses for fibroid from the seaweed to the repurposing of all our waste, so we don't have any waste coming out of our facility, to the fact that we run our facilities off 100% renewable energy.”

Looking forward, Mackinnon expects that increasing consumer awareness of greenwashing will mean that accreditation bodies will have to tighten up further, ensuring that companies are more vigilant with language used, and claims on labels.

While that would be a positive for environmental causes, it does perpetuate some pre-existing issues for companies already involved in organic certification, explains Mackinnon.

She states: “In different jurisdictions, the requirements are different. You can spend years going through verification in one jurisdiction and then you might have a client in another jurisdiction asking for that certification, and they don’t align.”

Mackinnon concludes that there is room for improvement in jurisdictions regulation, calling for a global “evening out” of regulation.

She says: “This is something we look forward to working with our partners toward, and to providing advice to regulators and accreditation bodies so that we can come together and make it easy for consumers and companies alike to identify fairly high-quality ingredients.”

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