Editor’s note: When David Hart, vice president of marketing at Qualitas Health, submitted this piece for Supplement Perspectives I initially balked at running it. Then, I realized the post expresses how a company’s story and its practices sell products. As the supplement industry grows more sophisticated and competitive you must have a backstory that paints your company as a caring contributor or, at best, someone with a heartbeat.
And if R&D is at the center of this story, even better. This is the world supplement manufacturers will continue to live in. Are you prepared?
Omega-3 is a large category: $25 billion globally in 2011, estimated to balloon to $37.7 billion by 2016. The health benefits of omega-3s are so well established that it is now mainly a function of having enough supply to meet the demand. GOED estimates the World Health Organization omega-3 intake recommendation of 250 mg/day requires approximately 650,000 metric tons of EPA/DHA, but the current ocean capacity is only 530,000 metric tons. When taking into account higher dosages of omega-3s from emerging research and public health recommendations, this supply gap widens further.
When it comes to satisfying the growing needs for omega-3s worldwide, Qualitas Health is betting on…algae. Qualitas Health’s founder and chief technology officer, Dr. Isaac Berzin, saw the potential of algae as the most promising source of the important LC-PUFA omega-3s, and envisioned the development of sustainable microalgae farming and harvesting methods for omega-3s.
So, while most other omega-3 manufacturers were sailing the seas, hauling in bulging nets of fish and krill, Qualitas Health set up shop on 350 acres of dusty, non-arable land among the scrub brush and oil wells of West Texas. Testing their new “alga-culture” farming system, the Qualitas team nurtured in the bright Texas sun the original source of omega-3: a natural, non-GMO strain of microalgae rich in EPA and polar lipids (phospholipids and glycolipids), which is the source of the omega-3 ingredient, Almega PL.
Almega PL is a vegetarian and sustainable alternative to krill oil offering a sustainable and “green” alternative for the future. The algae for Almega PL are grown in open ponds on non-arable lands, using solar energy as the main energy input and creating value from non-usable resources.
1.) The open pond structure captures renewable solar power through photosynthesis -- the primal reaction from which life on Earth was created. Using natural sunlight as the primary energy input, the farm consumes carbon dioxide, thereby mitigating global-warming intensifying greenhouse emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. As part of the photosynthesis process, the algae release life-sustaining oxygen into the atmosphere.
2.) The process is fresh-water neutral, utilizing the brackish Cenozoic Pecos Alluvium Aquifer—water that is so salty it cannot be used for drinking, agriculture, or industry. But it’s perfect for growing marine-sourced algae.
3.) A gentle, hexane-free, wet-oil extraction process is used. Most extraction processes first dry the algae, which requires considerable energy. Wet oil extraction employs a patented technology to extract the oil from the algae without drying it, helping to maintain the low energy footprint.
4.) Algae are harvested daily. Part of the unique process created by Qualitas is the ability and know-how to maintain the algae at exponential growth rates, where the biomass doubles every week, providing a renewable source of algae and omega-3s.
This proprietary production process doesn’t generate any harmful waste products, and co-products are used for animal feed, resulting in minimal waste. A modular design makes production easily scalable, with the potential for nearly unlimited expansion.
As Almega PL and additional nutrition ingredients from algae make their debut around the world, Qualitas Health’s dream of developing renewable, sustainable sources of omega-3s is coming to fruition.