Last year, Martek's sales to food and beverage customers accounted for just $17.05m of its $450m net sales, with the bulk of revenues coming from sales to infant formula makers and the dietary supplements trade.
However, new products – notably its DHA-O blend of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahaexanoic acid), and a freezable DHA emulsion for ambient drinks – were helping to broaden Martek’s appeal in the food and drink sector, said product applications director Christine Bunting.
Bunting, who was speaking to NutraIngredients-USA at the recent IFT expo, said beverages were a big opportunity. “It’s easier to put DHA in milk or products containing fat, but most shelf-stable beverages don’t contain fat. Customers don’t want to homogenise juice just to incorporate omega-3s, so that’s why we came up with a new emulsion.
“The emulsion can be added to non-fat beverages with minimal impact on formulation methods and recipes. It can also be stored frozen and does not require thawing before use.”
The ‘fishless fish oil’
Martek’s new algal-sourced EPA/DHA blend had also attracted a lot of interest at the IFT show, said Bunting.
“We still believe DHA is the most important omega-3 fatty acid, but we wanted to be able to offer something with EPA as well.”
Dubbed the ‘fishless fish oil’, DHA-O offers food and drink manufacturers and supplement makers a vegetarian alternative to fish oil with heart, brain and eye benefits.
Martek lodged a Novel Food application for DHA-O in December to secure access to the EU market, and has self-affirmed GRAS in the US.
The oil, which is derived from a different species of the Schizochytrium microalgae it uses to produce its life’s DHA brand, contains half as much EPA as DHA, giving it a fatty acid profile similar to many fish oils.
Business as usual post DSM acquisition?
While reporting structures would change, it had been largely “business as usual” at Martek following its acquisition by DSM, said Bunting.
DSM had not tried to impose a big corporation mentality on Martek, which had always been “very entrepreneurial”, she said. “I think they want to capture some of this.
“DSM will help us grow internationally. They have access to geographies and customers where we have no business yet.”
Martek has its headquarters and some R&D facilities in Columbia, Maryland; an R&D facility in Boulder, Colorado, and production facilities in South Carolina and Kentucky. Its Amerifit branded supplements business is based in Cromwell, Connecticut.
DSM is a Dutch company but its Nutritional Products (NP) division (created when it purchased Roche Vitamins in 2003) is based in Basel, Switzerland. The US HQ of its NP division is in Parsippany, New Jersey, where it has just opened a state-of-the-art innovation center.
Click here to see pictures of DSM's new US innovation center.