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Omega-3 arguments continue after krill court case

By Mike Stones , 15-Oct-2009
Last updated on 15-Oct-2009 at 13:14 GMT

Arguments about the nutritive value of Aker BioMarine’s omega-3 based dietary supplement Superba Krill are continuing even after it won a court case in Oslo, Norway against cod liver oil producer Axellus, owned by Orkla.

Orkla’s legal attempt to prevent the sale of the krill powder Superba Krill in Norway failed last week leading Aker BioMarine to claim victory.

The company’s board chairman Kjell Inge Rokke said: “I am not surprised that the cod liver oil producer views Superba Krill as a threat. Compared with cod liver oil, Superba Krill is a naturally better omega-3 product that features 100 per cent traceability and documented health benefits.”

Aker BioMarine claims that studies show that omega-3 from Superba Kill is more fully utilized by the human body than omega-3 derived from fish. Its research director Hogne Vik told NutraIngredients.com that: “Omega-3s (EPA and DPA) from krill are taken up more effectively by cells (in the human body) than omega-3s from fish.”

Cod liver oil

After winning the case at Oslo’s city court, the company said it would continue to sell its product in Norway which currently has cod liver oil market worth up to $50m/year.

Meanwhile, Stig Nillssen, chief executive officer of Axellus said that his company had “lost in court but won the case.” Arguments from Axellus about the nutrition claims made for Superba Krill forced Aker BioMarine to modify its marketing campaign, he said.

We are delighted that Aker BioMarine has changed its core message in the middle of their marketing campaign,” said Nillssen. “They did so before the trial even started which is a big victory for all those in favour of more orderly and honest communication with consumers.”

Axellus’s information manager Kristina Johansen told NutraIngredients.com that her company had reacted to eight claims to the Superba Krill marketing campaign and that Aker removed five points.

There is no public documentation proving that omega-3 from krill is better than omega-3 from fish,” she said. “Almost all the research on omega-3 has been done on fish oil.”

Omega-3 content

Moreover, Superba Krill contains the market’s lowest amount of omega-3 content with only 0.055 grams, said Johansen. Although about 15,000 articles have been written about the health effects of omega-3 fatty acids, none were concerned does as low as 0.055grams. “Aker BioMarine has no basis to claim that Superba Krill is good for heart, brain, skin and joints,” she concluded.

Johansen also said that the Norwegian market for omega-3s had “exploded” over the past three years with 75 per cent of the nation’s adults spending 800m krones/year on more than 100 types of omega-3 or cod liver oil products.

The wider European omega-3 ingredients market is predicted to hit a staggering $1.6bn by 2014, according to Frost & Sullivan. This figure includes marine, algae and flaxseed sourced omega-3s.

Although finding in Aker BioMarine’s favour, Oslo City Court ruled that both parties should pay their own legal costs.

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