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Canadian firm to bring encapsulated hemp oil ingredient to market for supplements, foods

By Hank Schultz , 09-Dec-2013
Last updated the 09-Dec-2013 at 17:39 GMT

Canadian firm Natural Splendid Ltd. is bringing to market a line of plant-based omega-3 products for supplements and functional foods based on technology developed at the University of British Columbia.

The technology, developed by a company called Boreal Technologies in collaboration with UBC, uses both microencapsulation and liposomal technology to render lipid-based ingredients that the company says have both formulation flexibility and greater uptake in the digestivie system.  The encapsulation technology transforms the insoluble ingredients into a stable aqueous suspension. The suspended particles can then be used in a liquid state or milled into a fine, flour-like substance. The company says this procedure allows for multiple methods of product implementation: capsules, powders, beverages, etc. and precise control over dosage and uptake.

Naturally Splendid has made a business supplying hemp-based food ingredients into the Canadian market, said CEO J. Craig Goodwin.  When the company looked to expand its offerings, it was looking for ingredients that provided a distinct advantage, he said.

“When we looked at the superfood opportunity there is no shortage of great product out on the market,” Goodwin told NutraIngredients-USA.  “Boreal has created a patent-pending microencapsulation, lipsomal technology.  It is a sophisticated technology.”

Flexible technology

Hemp oil was the starting point, Goodwin said,  because of its ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. But the distribution agreement between Naturally Splendid and Boreal covers the application of the technology too other nutrient-dense oil seeds such flax and chia, he said.

Boreal’s technology yields ingredients that can be supplied in either a liquid form (branded in this case H2Omega) or in a powder that can be mixed into a food or beverage (branded as HempOmega).

“It is derived from the pharmaceutical process of bioavailability and uptake in the body,” said Dennis Colón, senior manager of operations at Boreal Technologies.  “We can apply these technologies to create a nutraceutical or food product that creates higher bioavailability.”

Colón said that the Boreal’s technology could have wide application within the omega-3 sphere.

“The idea is that because we were able to address the emulsion issue we are finding that as we continue to test that this can be customized throughout the sector,” he said. “We are looking at algal oil.  We are confident we are going to have the same results.”

Studies lacking

Goodwin said that hemp has a long history of use both as a food and as a source of herbal medicine.  But he admitted a lot more work needs to be done to support the benefits that promoters of the products claim for them.

“There has been very little clinical study on the benefits of hemp oil.  That is one of the biggest drawbacks or road blocks to commercializing these products,” he said.

Goodwin said the encapsulated hemp oils will be marketed based on the benefits of their ALA content and on their omega-3 to omega-6 ratios.  They will not be marketed as organic products, however.  Hemp is basically a weed, Goodwin said, and requires few inputs from the farmer to grow well.  But going full organic did not provide an adequate return on investment, the company found.

“We launched an organic line a while ago and the premium for organic hemp was just not sustainable.  What we find more of a top-of-mind subject now is GMO.  There is no genetically modified hemp,” he said. “What we want is to offer the best possible product and tell the truth about it.”

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