Cyanotech, a leading producer of natural products from microalgae, is starting the year one man short after the departure of its scientific director at the end of December.
The Hawaiian company announced that John Dore had left his position to pursue other opportunities in research, but would maintain a month-to-month consulting relationship with Cyanotech during the next six months.
Last month, the company said that changes in market conditions means it would only convert six out of a possible 10 ponds from Spirulina to astaxanthin production. It had previously singled out 10 ponds for conversion from Spirulina to astaxanthin production, but said that an increase in demand for natural astaxanthin had led it to the limitation.
The company noted when it published its second quarter results in November that demand for natural astaxanthin during the quarter had been impacted by bad weather in Japan and by competitive pricing of synthetic astaxanthin aquaculture products in Europe.
However, the November statement also remarked that future demand for natural astaxanthin in aquaculture was expected to rebound to levels prior to the dip.
"When we implemented the conversion of our ponds, our intent was to increase our flexibility to adjust production of both of our products as required so that we would be in a better position to respond to the varying demands of the marketplace," said Gerald Cysewski, Cyanotech's CEO.
He added that the benefits of this decision have been reaped and that: "As we see conditions improving in the aquaculture markets, the company will reassess the timing and appropriateness of full conversion."
Cyanotech remarked in it annual report published this summer that it believes consumers have a growing awareness of the beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of astaxanthin - microalgae cultivated for the production of antioxidants, which cleanse the blood of toxins - thanks to the findings of clinical trials.
However, it also sounded a note of caution, saying it "needs to continue to focus on market acceptance of its natural astaxanthin products as increased competition from other producers of natural and synthetic astaxanthin may result in the decline of margins".
The company manufactures its products in Hawaii but markets them worldwide, generating 53 percent, 54 percent and 47 percent of its revenues outside of the United States for each of the years ended March 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively.