Aker Biomarine talks sustainability and science

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Andrea Izzotti
Getty | Andrea Izzotti

Related tags Krill oil omega-3

Krill oil makes up approximately 15% of the omega-3 supplement market and is well posiutioned to weather storm around the Peruvian anchovy supply as "one of the most plentiful biomasses in the world" according to Norwegian fishing and biotech company Aker Biomarine.

The makers of the branded Superba Krill supplement, with naturally ocuring omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA and astaxanthin, have witnessed revenues up 42% YOY. 

Simon Seward, EVP Human Health & Nutrition, Aker BioMarine, suggests much of this is thanks to the company's investments in science and sustainability.

There has been a lot of discussion about the lack of Peruvian anchovy supply. Has this impacted your company?

The challenges around the Peruvian anchovy supply have put great emphasis on the need for having multiple and sustainable omega-3 options available for customers and consumers alike.

At Aker BioMarine, we fully own our entire supply chain, so this is an advantage in helping us ensure a stable supply of krill. We believe that by maintaining control and transparency of the full value chain, from harvesting to production to final product, we can ensure a solid and stable supply for our customers.

This means...we can ensure our customer continuity and security of supply and stable prices during this challenging period.

What are the main challenges related to supply and sustainable harvest of krill oil today and how does Aker ensure its krill oil is harvested sustainably​?

Fortunately, there aren’t any challenges related to the supply or sustainable harvest of krill oil today. Krill has long been referred to as one of the most plentiful biomasses in the world. It’s one of the key arguments in what makes krill a sustainable ingredient for human nutrition, aquafeed and more. Only 1% of the biomass is available for harvesting.

The krill fishery is overseen by an organization called the Commission of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). This is the body that determines the catch levels each year. They take a precautionary approach to krill, limiting fishing to just 1% of the biomass, but luckily this amount is enough to supply our customers and their customers across the globe.

We have strong relations, close collaboration, and ongoing dialogue with stakeholders such as scientists, NGO groups and ocean conservation groups. Our co-operation with these groups has enabled us to better facilitate research and understanding in Antarctica to continue leading in a sustainable way.

We established the Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund​ (AWR) in 2015, with the mission to ensure a resilient Antarctica through filling critical gaps in ecosystem research and monitoring. 

Science is one of the most important cornerstones to our business and when it comes to sustainability, we rely on scientists to help us better understand what is happening in Antarctica, and then we work together to find solutions. By investing every year on Antarctic science and the support of krill management, we can make better decision for the future.

Technology and big data are the future when it comes to fisheries, and a major part of our sustainable practices. For example, our Eco-Harvesting technology was created to protect the Antarctic fishery from undesirable environmental impact. This technique includes a net that doesn’t harm other species and it preserves the nutritional integrity of the krill.

And finally, as part of our ongoing sustainability strategy, we have committed to ambitious goals by 2030 such as reducing CO2 emissions, deploying the use of green ammonia to power the company’s vessels, reducing the amount of fuel used and more. 

What are the health benefits of krill oil? 

With krill oil, its omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA – are largely bound to phospholipids​, which are integral to the body’s cells and cell membranes. Due to this biological advantage, our bodies immediately recognize phospholipid-bound omega-3s and incorporate them into the cells, feeding the places that need them the most including the heart, brain, liver, and joints. Other omega-3 sources, specifically those in triglyceride form, must go through a conversion process before they can be taken up by our cells and used by our bodies.

Superba Krill oil is the purest, naturally occurring combination of phospholipids, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA), choline and astaxanthin. The advantage comes from our patented concentration of phospholipids which delivers omega-3s and choline directly into the cell membrane for whole body support.

The focus of our science ranges from how krill oil phospholipids support general health and wellness to how krill oil supports condition specific health areas such as heart and liver health, cognitive health, joints, muscles, sports performance, skin health, eye health and PMS. Aker BioMarine has contributed to more than 200 articles and more than 50 studies related to krill oil benefits for human health published in world renowned top tier journals. 

Several peer-reviewed publications demonstrate Superba Krill oil’s effect on healthy aging in areas such as neuron and cellular health, muscle function and joint health.

In a recent study published in Aging​, research teams used nematode worms and human cells to investigate if krill oil can slow down the aging process. It concluded that krill oil promotes healthy aging by counteracting many of the cellular and biological processes that drive aging in cells and tissues such as: Suppressing the accumulation of oxidative DNA damage, counteracting the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and function and suppressing senescence (the loss of cells’ ability to grow and divide.

Superba Krill oil was used in two additional studies that examined krill oil’s effects in aging populations. Published in Clinical Nutrition (2022),​ scientists concluded that krill oil significantly increases muscle function and size in healthy older adults 60+.

Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2022)​, concluded that krill oil improves knee pain, stiffness, and physical function in adults 40 to 65 years old with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis.

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