Sustainability: a basic standard in today’s ingredient business
A Norwegian fishing and oil-services company has leapt into the growing market for omega-3 ingredients from Antarctic krill.
Trade shows have seen Olympic Seafood introduce its products, branded the Rimfrost Krill Collection, based on extracts from the shrimp-like marine crustacean Euphausia Superba that it gathers from its ship in the Antarctic Ocean and processes on board the vessel.
The Norwegian company joins a krill market that so far has been dominated by two major suppliers – Aker Biomarine and Neptune – that have been posting double-digit annual sales growth, as well as fighting with each other over potentially valuable krill patents in the United States.
Although krill ingredients account for only a small percentage of the market for omega-3 ingredients, demand is growing and the ingredient suppliers believe the potential for krill to expand its share is huge.
Krill have the advantage of carrying a potent combination of ingredients that, among other things, help them survive the icy conditions of the Antarctic Ocean, including phospholipid-bound omega-3 fatty acids, other lipids, protein and antioxidants. In humans, Olympic says, omega-3 phospholipids are more efficiently absorbed and utilised by the body than other forms of omega-3s and have significantly less aftertaste. That allows a smaller dose of krill than other omega-3 products to accomplish the same effects in the body.
While new markets are always exciting, the fact is that any company that wants to introduce any kind of ‘natural source’ ingredient to the food, beverage and supplement industries needs to be able to re-assure potential customers about sustainability.
From the outset, Olympic has made sustainability an important component of its operations. In part this is because krill is highly important to the Antarctic ecosystem, a ‘keystone’ species that feeds many larger ones including penguins, seals, whales and seabirds. For that reason, Olympic’s operations are certified by an international standards-setting organisation called Friend of the Sea and its ship carries an international observer from the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Sustainability matters because branded food and beverage companies can’t afford to take any risk of associating their brand with anything that’s ‘bad for the planet’. Proving your sustainability credentials incurs cost but it won’t add to your sales. Sustainability has moved from ‘nice to have’ and become one of those things that every company must do simply to be credible and to be in the game.