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To serve and protect sourcing sustainable moega-3: Dr Kevin Robinson spoke with Matts Johansen, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Aker BioMarine, to discover more about the company and its product for the nutraceutical market: Superba Krill.

NBT: Matts, what is your role at the biotechnology company, Aker BioMarine?

MJ: As the Sales and Marketing EVP, my job is to help nutraceutical and other health and well-being product suppliers to access the health-promoting properties of Superba Antarctic krill products.

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NBT: What makes Aker BioMarine a special resource for the global nutraceutical market?

MJ: Aker BioMarine owns the entire sustainable value chain that produces Superba Krill phospholipid-bound omega-3 krill ingredients for nutraceutical producers worldwide. The company wields innovative biotechnology expertise in R&D, processing and formulation that facilitates the incorporation of the bioactive ingredients found in Antarctic krill into superior omega-3 products. Since our days as a start-up, we have been proactive in protecting the delicate Antarctic environment; manufacturers can rely on our detailed product traceability documentation, right down to the location at which our ship harvested the Antarctic krill found in their end products. As the market leaders of our nutraceutical niche, we are working to prove the value of Superba Krill by driving clinical documentation of the health benefits that result from the intake of the phospholipid-bound omega-3 contained in it. This kind of reliable scientific evidence is sought by both producers and the public, and further boosts confidence in omega-3 nutraceuticals.

Aker BioMarine is also driving a fundamental rethink about the type of omega-3 that is most beneficial to human health and drawing attention to what distinguishes our pure Superba Krill omega-3, which is rich in EPA and DHA in phospholipid form, from popular omega-3 triglyceride products. What are these differences? First, our marine-sourced omega-3 has different physical properties that improve its uptake by body tissues and, although this is another story, also make it a superior additive for functional foods. The second, and vitally important, difference is that the omega-3 fatty acids found in Superba Krill are more closely analogous to the body's own phospholipid-bound fatty acids, which are fundamental components of cell structure and neurotransmitters. In other words, products incorporating Superba Krill can be considered to be more bioeffective. Greater awareness of these benefits could generate product market success that far outpaces the already strong omega-3 sales trend. Finally, consider the market potential inherent in launching unique omega-3 products formulated in collaboration with Aker BioMarine that feature Superba Krill in combination with other sought-after bioactive ingredients.

NBT: Greater use of marine-derived ingredients is a functional food industry trend. What makes krill an attractive raw material for nutraceuticals?

MJ: There are both physical and chemical properties possessed by krill that facilitate food making and a host of functional foods, ranging from juice to bread, are good candidates for Superba Krill supplementation. The improved bioefficiency of phospholipid-bound omega-3 means that intended health benefits can be delivered in a small dose. It also disperses in water and mixes well with main ingredients. Superba Krill is heat-tolerant, very stable and contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin as a natural component; this imparts a deep red colour, which is used as a marketing differentiator by certain popular dietary supplement brands. Aker BioMarine is currently in discussions with potential customers who anticipate a huge market for functional foods featuring phospholipid-bound omega-3 ingredients.

NBT: Describe some benefits to nutraceutical manufacturers of krill-derived products in terms of purity and quality.

MJ: Every 5 years or so, the industry must respond to the discovery of yet another toxin that resides in its raw materials. Aker BioMarine harvests its krill (Euphasia superba) in pristine Antarctic waters, far away from sources of industrial, chemical and other anthropogenic pollution. Moreover, krill occupy a relatively low position in the marine food chain, unlike commercial sources of marine omega-3, which are derived from fish and marine mammals and therefore require treatment to remove accumulated PCBs, heavy metals and other toxins.

NBT: Does omega-3 derived from Antarctic krill deliver health advantages compared with omega-3 from other sources?

MJ: Omega-3 supplementation is widely believed to improve cardiovascular, neurological, bone, joint and skin health, to mention just a few aspects of general well-being. Aker BioMarine is fostering a range of research investigations and specific clinical studies to document the health benefits that are attributable to Antarctic krill-derived Superba Krill phospholipid-bound omega-3. A good example is a clinical study published in Lipids -- other references are available on our website.

NBT: Your corporate philosophy embraces sustainable harvesting and environmental responsibility. How do you act on these values in day-to-day operations?

MJ: Our efforts to protect the environment are among our proudest achievements. Early on, we asked WWF-Norway, other environmental NGOs and fisheries experts how Aker BioMarine could establish new performance standards in Antarctic harvesting. As a result of this, we launched our patented Eco-Harvesting technology; this catches krill while effectively blocking by-catches and, crucially, avoids the dangers of traditional trawling techniques that ensnare fish, birds and marine mammals.

We have independent observers on board our advanced harvesting and processing trawler who report on catches directly to CCAMLR, the international authority that sets conservative krill quotas and specifies where harvesting can take place. Furthermore, Aker BioMarine is the only krill supplier to be awarded Marine Stewardship Council certification for sustainable, ecofriendly harvesting.

NBT: The traceability of raw materials is a key requirement for manufacturers and a discerning public. Describe Aker BioMarine's vertical integration and global product traceability systems.

MJ: We document every production step, starting with the GPS location of where each batch of krill is harvested by our Saga Sea vessel and manufacturers receive detailed product traceability reports. Major retail chains are increasingly demanding verifiable information regarding product traceability and compliance with strict regimes for raw material gathering and handling. Moreover, Aker BioMarine's Superba Krill imposes its own stringent standards that are stricter than applicable regulatory and industry wide requirements.

NBT: What is special about raw material harvesting in the Antarctic Ocean?

MJ: The Antarctic's distance from major population centres means that we harvest in pristine, unpolluted waters. We also deploy an ultra-modern fishing vessel and use our advanced, Eco-Harvesting system. Frankly, the cost of staffing and operating a first-rate vessel -- and the investments involved throughout the value chain that we control -- present a natural economic threshold that few would-be competitors could undertake. Aker BioMarine urges all Antarctic fisheries participants to vigorously protect marine species in the delicate Antarctic marine environment.

NBT: What can we expect of Aker BioMarine in 2011 and beyond?

MJ: During the last few years, we have been building a world-class, integrated marine biotechnology company. Supported by research and clinical documentation, we will tilt the nutraceutical industry agenda toward widespread acceptance of the superior properties of the krill-derived, phospholipid-bound omega-3 found in Superba Krill.

What does it mean to the company to have won the inaugural NBT Award for Environmental Excellence?

MJ: "The Environmental Excellence award is great recognition of all the time and effort we have invested in ensuring the sustainability of our operation in Antarctica. Guaranteeing sustainable harvesting of Krill has been in the company's DNA from its conception and has remained everybody's -- from the crew on board our vessels to the senior management of the company -- top priority. We strive to set the gold-standard for the sustainable harvesting of natural resources and this award confirms to our customers and their consumers that the krill product they purchase from Aker BioMarine is harvested in a 100% sustainable way."

For more information

Matts Johansen, EVP Sales and Marketing

Aker BioMarine ASA

Fjordalleen 16

PO Box 1423 Vika

NO-1005 Oslo, Norway

Tel. +47 2413 0000

www.akerbiomarine.com
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Title Annotation:executive profile
Author:Robinson, Kevin
Publication:Nutraceutical Business & Technology
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:4EXNO
Date:Jul 1, 2011
Words:1243
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