Martek and GM team up on omega-3 microencapsulation

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: General mills, Docosahexaenoic acid

The world’s leading vegetarian-sourced DHA supplier, Martek Biosciences, has joined with General Mills to develop encapsulation techniques for omega-3 ingredients.

The deal will see the “best and brightest food technicians”​ at the two companies working together to deliver microencapsulation results in extruded foods.

Martek spokesperson Cassie France-Kelly said it would likely be 12-24 months before the collaboration delivered results.

Extruded

Martek is the dominant omega-3 supplier to the infant formula industry in North America and Europe and in recent years has seen its life’sDHA (docosahexaenoic acid) proprietary ingredient incorporated into many products in a broad range of food categories from dairy to bakery.

However many of these products are fresh such as breads, yoghurts and chilled dairy offerings and do not offer the long shelf life potential of many of the extruded products that could incorporate life’sDHA if the General Mills initiative is successful.

“With some of the fresh projects we have resolved most of the formulation issues,”​ Martek spokesperson Cassie France-Kelly told NutraIngredients-USA.com. “But extrusion offers exciting possibilities for a whole new range of omega-3 products. Obviously General Mills know their products and what they want in terms of their ingredients but we have a lot of expertise in this areas and can bring a lot to the table.”

The deal sees Martek granted “a perpetual and generally exclusive license” ​to the General Mills technology in regard to third parties for use with “DHA and other polyunsaturated fatty acids”.

When the technology reaches commercial use, General Mills retains the right to use it “within some of its core businesses.”

The companies have long worked together as General Mills was one of the first to employ life’sDHA in a non-infant nutrition product when it added it to Yoplait Kids spoonable yoghurt in June, 2006.

It soon followed that with a Yoplait Kids drinkable yoghurt product in July, 2007.

Infantile dominance

Martek’s algae-derived DHA is almost exclusively used in US infant formulas and the ingredient appears in more than 200 brands of infant formula, nutritional supplements and functional foods sold in over 75 countries worldwide.

The company had yearly revenue of​$336.6m in 2008 and earned $37.7m.

Upon releasing its Q4 results chief executive officer, Steve Dubin said: "During the year, we increased penetration in international infant formula markets, expanded the use of DHA outside of infant formula and significantly improved our profitability and cash flow generation.”

Minnesota-based General Mills has more than 100 consumer brands including Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley and Betty Crocker.

It had sales of $14.9 billion in fiscal 2008.

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