While specific numbers would not be divulged, Dr Ake Lignell, general manager of BioReal, told NutraIngredients that the expansion represented a ‘doubling’ in production of its AstaREAL branded ingredient.
The company announced the consolidation of all its astaxanthin production at its Swedish base in January, noting that the Swedish facility offered “better product uniformity, operational efficiency and ease of expansion”.
Indeed, the surviving technology available in Sweden is modular, making any potential expansion “rapid”, said the company. Fuji/BioReal sources its AstaREAL-branded astaxanthin from the algae form, Haematococcus pluvialis.
“This expansion will allow us to further optimise the use of our resources and to establish Fuji as the most reliable supplier of natural astaxanthin who can quickly respond to the needs of the market,” said Lignell.
The expansion comes in response to a global increase in demand for astaxanthin, said Lignell, with Asia leading the way. The main applications for the ingredient continue to be food supplements, he added. Increases in demand for food uses are seen in geographical markets where the ingredient is approved for food and beverage uses, said Lignell, like in the US where the FDA gave a thumbs up to the ingredient’s GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in January 2010.
“This is an exciting decision for Fuji,” said Mitsunori Nishida, president and CEO of Fuji Chemical, “because it is yet another step forward in our quest to establish AstaREAL astaxanthin as the premier supplement of the future.”
According to the company, the Swedish facility is an in-door operation housing fully enclosed bioreactors operated under controlled and optimal conditions which enables high and stable output year round. The operation is ISO9001:2008 and also certified and complies with HACCP and GMP.
The global astaxanthin market is estimated to be worth about $200 million by 2015, most of which is used as a pigment to enhance the pink coloration of fish such as salmon. The human uses market is growing and estimated at about $35-60 million, according to 2008 data from Frost & Sullivan.
Its main health benefits are eye and skin health although it has also been linked to joint health and central nervous system health and is said to have an antioxidant payload 500 times that of vitamin E.