Krill oil specialist Aker BioMarine Antarctic (Oslo, Norway) celebrated its 10th anniversary at this year’s Natural Products Expo West trade show. The company spoke about how the supplier helped grow the krill business into what it is today: the second-leading source of omega-3s, behind fish oil, with 20% market share.
“I would honestly say that the growth has been explosive,” said Todd Norton, vice president, business development, Aker BioMarine. “I mean, it’s had moments of greater explosion, but the position that krill now enjoys in the overall omega-3 space is here to stay. It’s second behind fish oil. It’s the second-largest type of omega-3 that’s used as far as an EPA/DHA source.”
Norton said that Aker BioMarine’s business partnerships, as well as its own market research, have helped the company grow consumer awareness of krill oil. “They recognize and realize that there’s an alternative and an option to fish oil,” Norton said. “And if they’ve left the category for reasons where the product didn’t work for them or they didn’t have a good experience, but they recognize that they need omega-3s, krill has been a great option for them to turn to.” He added that Aker is still heavily involved in sampling programs to spread the word.
It was last year that Aker unveiled several next-generation advancements around krill. These included Flexitech, a krill-oil processing technology that removes the salt N-oxide (TMAO), which is largely responsible for krill’s fishy odor. Aker used this technology to introduce Superba2, the next generation of its flagship Superba krill oil. And at last year’s SupplySide West trade show, the company introduced its new high-concentrate krill oil, Superba Boost. Thanks to Flexitech, which in addition to removing TMAO also results in higher concentrations of krill’s desirable lipids, choline, and EPA/DHA fatty acids, the company is able to create this high concentrate with more than 56% concentration of phospholipids (versus 40% found in typical krill oils).
Looking back on these recent developments, Norton said, “We’ve been able to improve not only our yield but the quality of the product in terms of taste, odor, aroma, and clarity. It actually looks nicer now as a product. The consumer appeal and the consumer experience have improved over time through these processes.”
“When you look back on the last 10 years, there really hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the krill space from any of the suppliers,” he added. “So, this move from Superba to SuperbaBoost really is significant, and it’s just the start for us. The technology that we have put into place to be able to bring SuperbaBoost to market has a lot of runway left, and we want to make sure we maximize the opportunity now with SuperbaBoost, get the information out to the market, and while that’s going on, we’re obviously looking at the third-generation or fourth-generation possibilities, too.”
The company also talked about the initiatives it is now working on to grow krill further. One of them is education, and on that front, at Natural Products Expo West, the company continued to promote the Omega-3 Index Project, through which the company invites consumers to have their omega-3 levels screened in order to determine their levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids (their Omega-3 Index). The company is using this initiative to build awareness about insufficient omega-3 intakes globally and the negative health ramifications that result, including heart disease. “We’re trying to get people to join our challenge—30 days, get tested, take SuperBoost, and see how much their levels go up,” Norton said. “The goal of the Omega-3 Index is to be at 8% or higher, and as you can see, not many countries are there.”
On the research front, Nils Hoem, PhD, chief scientist at Aker BioMarine, discussed an 18-month U.S. Army Rangers trial currently being conducted to test whether Aker’s krill oil supplements can help Rangers improve their endurance and performance during rigorous field training. “The idea is to supplement the Rangers very heavily ahead of going out into field training and then to monitor the success rate of being enrolled, because many of them would otherwise fall out of the program. We’ll also be looking at other parameters of how they perform with and without supplementation,” Hoem said.
The company is also working with softgel manufacturers to continually improve delivery systems for krill. The company said it is now working with softgel specialist Soft Gel Technologies Inc. (Los Angeles) to help incorporate high-concentrate SuperbaBoost softgels in Soft Gel’s own portfolio.
Steve Holtby, president and CEO of Soft Gel Technologies, says, “We’re delighted to team up with Aker BioMarine in introducing SuperbaBoost krill oil concentrate to our customer base. Our collaboration with this industry leader provides us the opportunity to manufacture a recognized, branded ingredient in softgels. SuperbaBoost contains a significantly higher concentration of key actives, including phospholipids, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and choline. It is also a natural source of astaxanthin, with the added benefit of no unpleasant smell or taste. Aker harvests krill from pristine Antarctic waters and has the only krill fishery to receive Marine Stewardship Council certification for adherence to responsible and sustainable management of krill in the Antarctic ecosystem.”
“Joining forces to co-promote this new product with 100% purity and 100% traceability from sea to shelf is mutually beneficial and helps us reach a larger audience. For those consumers seeking natural options for supporting heart, brain, vision, and liver health, Soft Gel’s 500-mg SuperbaBoost krill oil concentrate softgels are a bioavailable source of essential fatty acids, phospholipids, and choline,” Holtby adds.