Avesthagen validates commercialization of new vegetarian DHA

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid

India’s Avesthagen Limited has announced the completion of its development of microalgae-derived DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), with the technology validated for commercialization.

According to the company, the patented technology allows commercial production of high quality, 100 percent vegetarian AvestaDHA. The ingredient is produced via fermentation using a novel Schizochytrium linacinum​ strain SC-1.

DHA is a long chain omega-3 essential fatty acid linked to eye, brain and heart health. It is particularly popular in infant formulas as it is thought to support fetal brain and eye development during pregnancy. After the baby is born, DHA – consumed through breastfeeding or fortified infant formulas – is said to support mental, visual and motor skills development.

Collaborative project

Funding for the development project came from a research grant from India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the New Millennium Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) scheme. Avesthagen collaborated with the National Institute of Oceanography (Goa), Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (Jammu), and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (Hyderabad) to identify cost effective and renewable sources of DHA and other long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs).

“AvestaDHA will serve as an acceptable and safe source of DHA for vegetarians and others all over the World,”​ said Dr Villoo Morawala Patell, founder and chairperson of Bangalore-based Avesthagen. “Avesthagen is open for global licensing, manufacturing and marketing alliances. This is one step towards our continual commitment to discovery and commercialization of science based products that promote health and well being throughout life.

“AvestaDHA is also a step by Avesthagen in discharging an important Corporate Social Responsibility in that it is targeted at ameliorating the nutritional health of the bottom of the Pyramid and invites like-minded government, private organizations and civil society to join in the mission,”​ added Patell.

Exciting development

Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), welcomed Avesthagen's new algae as "an exciting development in the market".

Ismail told NutraIngredients-USA.com: "I think that within the next five years we will see at least a dozen new algal omega-3 sources come to market, including a couple launching this year even. What will be interesting to watch is how many of these new products will have unique characteristics, either by coming from novel strains, providing different ratios of omega-3s, and even reaching new levels of concentration in the oils.

"The good news for consumers is that all of these sources will give consumers more choice and increase access to omega-3s in the long-run,"​ he added.

Market

According to market analyst Frost & Sullivan, algal oil, which is a concentrated source of DHA, currently accounts for 3 percent of the total omega-3 market.

The DHA market is dominated by Martek with its life’sDHA product. Martek’s algae-sourced ingredient appears in around 95 percent of infant formula products sold in the United States. In recent years, the ingredient has also expanded beyond the infant formula market to be incorporated in a broad range of food categories from dairy to bakery.

Frost & Sullivan estimates the US market for algal-sourced omega-3 is $83m, while the EU market is $56m.

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