Algae DHA: a fix for odor, taste and cost is on the way for the Gross Dose.

June 28, 2017 |

Omega-3s are a great thing, but here’s the bottom line: the current applications stink. Not as in, they-don’t-work. We mean, literally.

Check out this comment at drpermutter.com.

I’ve been taking two tabs/day of a fish oil concentrate containing 500mg DHA and 250mg EPA. After my wife complained about my body odor I cut back to one/day, which solved the problem. Can anyone recommend a less ‘odiferous’ product? 

And, if you think that’s some obscure comment from one guy, just Google the phrase “recommended daily dose of DHA.” That’s Google’s top result. Omega-3s like DHA and EPA are the new garlic. Great for your health agenda, not so much for your social agenda.

The world should be taking up to a gram of DHA per day, and the price apparently runs north of $20,000 per ton (according to this source), and if you do the math, you’d get to 2.5 million tons gobally, per year, if everyone took it, and a $50 billion addressable market. The DHA/EPA market is nice, and growing, but if you believe these kinds of numbers, DHA at sub- $1B is an underachiever.

Let’s go beyond odor and look at cost. Food and beverage ingredient customers aren’t so interested in current price levels, which wholesale in the 20 cent per dose range.  They need them south of 10 cents a dose. So, 65% of the market concentrated in dietary supplements. Only 11% for functional foods.

And analysts are noticing the limitations — and by inference, the opportunities for breakthrough tech. As this report details:

“Consumer perception towards foul taste & smell of fish oil along with vegetarian population is likely to inhibit growth. Technology innovation for encapsulation and improving extraction is likely to support growth avenues and favor omega 3 ingredients demand.” 

Here comes Algarithm

Into this market and into the problem arrive from Saskatoon, the Mounties: Algarithm Ingredients has spun-out from POS Bio-Sciences to focus on opportunities in the algae-based food, nutraceutical, and beverage ingredients.

At this year’s IFT convention, to demonstrate how far they have taken DHA technology, they’re making DHA pancakes and serving them with DHA maple syrup. Think of this way — the aim is to expand the pie for DHA by making it possible ahem, to put DHA in pie.

The launch products coming out this week are a 40% DHA algal oil that addresses the questions about cost, taste, odor and stability that have been a part of DHA’s story for a long time. And a DMA emulsion and powders in three flavors — berry, vanilla and chocolate.

Pet foods, sport nutrition, beverage expansion

“The traditional focus for DHA is supplements and infant formula. There are lots of companies getting in that space, and there’s going to be a bit of a race to the bottom,” said Algarithm business development manager Ben Kelly. “we don’t want to fight in the same space, and 40% DHA algal oil is just the starting point. We’ve worked to modify that oil for wider applications. Pet foods, sport nutrition, beverages. More innovative ingredients.”

Algarithm has developed an emulsion version for its 40% DHA algae oil

And here’s one of Algarithm’s powder versions.

DHA omega 3s have been widely praised for their brain, heart, and eye health benefits, but the traditional sources of omega 3s are fish-based and the extraction methods have relied on chemical solvents. With the introduction of its new ingredient platform, Algarithm is paving the way for a new vegetarian product class that provides all the benefits of fish-derived DHA, but without the fish.

“When it comes to heart and brain health, the world needs a different way to get the nutrition without popping pills,” POS Bio-Sciences CEO Dale Kelley told The Digest.

The POS backstory

“DHA is an area we’ve been in since 1990, and we’ve been well known around the world,” said CEO Dale Kelley. “Dr. Udaya Wanasundara has been an authority in processing of different types of oils. We had a partner who wanted to optimize an aqueous extraction technology and grow a DHA business; they were looking to commercialize, and we expressed an interest in partnering. They wanted the downstream processing to monetize the products from the oil, and that’s how that relationship developed.

The technology and cost-breakthrough

The breakthrough is in the water-based extraction. The traditional approach has been batch-based — vats of oil, pulling off volatile compounds by vacuum. But Algarithm goes another way —  a continuous process, using steam.

How does this impact quality?

Odor and taste. “One, after being on the shelf within a a couple of days they taste terrible,” says Kelley. “The way we protect the oil protects addresses. Water-based extraction has lowered the cost and contributes to quality. We are at roughly half the cost (of North American suppliers), and more in line with what Chinese competitors are charging.” And, we’ll add that in the realm of oxidative stability, the specs are tight.

Cost. The cost per dose is less than 10 cents, “which is still high for some F&B apps, but it is n the realm of ‘we can do this’,” Kelly said.

100 tons this year

“We think we’ll sell 100+ tons this fiscal year,” Ben Kelly told The Digest. “we know from being in the R&D business in this sector that the adoption time is quite long, and it takes 12-24 months to really get some traction with companies. But we have sample with more than 40 companies, and success is not as far away as the launch will suggest, and in the interim we’re happy to work towards the more traditional markets.

The comments we’ve received anecdotally confirm that with smell & taste, they’ve seen nothing close on quality. And you’ll see a couple products in the next week or two with our oil in it, and at IFT we’ll do a lot of demonstration not only with pancakes and maple syrup, but with granola bars made with powder, we made 1500. We also have coconut water based emulsions, and also formulations with different milk and fruit juice.”

The Virun Partnership

Algarithm has aligned itself with Virun to produce retail-ready algal oil powders and emulsions. The Algarithm powders are vegan, water dispersible, non-GMO, have a high DHA concentration, have a one-year shelf life, and provide ideal flexibility for beverage and baking applications. Offered in three flavors – citrus/berry, chocolate, and vanilla – the powders formulate easily into any application. Through its relationship with Virun, Algarithm is also ready to offer retail-ready emulsions with flavors that span from tangerine and key lime to chocolate and churro, without the addition of sugar. Algarithm is taking an industry standard ingredient – 40% DHA algal oil – and creating new forms to allow for easy adoption in functional food, nutraceutical, beverage, and sport nutrition categories.

“The Algarithm ingredients leverage the Virun Esolv technology and have exceptional flavor systems, shelf life, and most importantly are plant-based,” said Philip Bromley, CEO and Co-Founder at Virun. “These unique attributes enable Algarithm to support the incredible demand for omega 3s, sustainability, and solvent-free food and beverages, while making them the ideal partner,” said Bromley.

The Bottom Line

Algarithm is dead right about addressing cost, taste, odor, stability — and expanding the market by creating the ingredients that support a much wider set of applications than just the nutritional supplements market. Algae at the GNC? Think broader than that. Think of a time not far from now when the health benefits of DHA are derived with every bite of flapjacks or every crunch of a granola bar, or every swig of fruit juice.

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