Human nutrition ingredients buoy Omega Protein despite supply uncertainty

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Omega protein Nutrition

The move into higher value human nutrition markets has helped Omega Protein weather supply uncertainties and boost profits.  Fish meal sales—still the company’s primary line of business—were down due to poor yields in the fishing season, but sales of OmegaActiv, the company’s omega 3 oil, were up, cushioning the supply blow.

Omega Protein, the largest fish oil processor for nutraceutical applications based in the US, saw net income rise to $2.8 million in the quarter from $1.8 million in the same period in 2012.  Gross profit margin rose, too; from 21.6% in 2012 Q 1 to 24.7% in the first quarter of 2013.

"We are encouraged by the progress in our human nutrition segment in the first quarter as sales of our OmegaActiv concentrated fish oil continued to grow and we expanded into the dairy protein market with our acquisition of Wisconsin Specialty Protein.  We believe our human nutrition segment growth initiatives will drive improved consolidated margins in the long-term,"​ said Bret Scholtes, president and CEO of Omega Protein.

More balance

Scholtes spoke of building “a more balanced nutrition company,”​ one of the goals when Omega Protein acquired the protein business and when it acquired Cyvex Nutrtiion in December 2010.  Both helped the company deal with the vagaries of extracted a natural resource, menhaden off the east and Gulf coasts of the US.  Not only do yield vary, both in total number of fish and in their oil content, but the company also announced in December that its Atlantic fish quotas had been cut by regulators by 20%, though this fishery is a much smaller part of the company’s overall harvest picture than is the Gulf fishery.

It's part of a broader view of the company that drove the Wisconsin Protein and Cyvex acquisitions. Omega Protein used to be all about catching fish; now it's about harvesting more value from those fish and leveraging the nutrition expertise it has acquired thereby.

“We view ourselves as a nutritional ingredient company. We believe that everything that we do should be to allow our consumers and their families to live healthier lives, whether that is a product we produce that goes into aquaculture feed that allows somebody to have a healthier piece of fish than they otherwise would, or somebody takes a supplement or now a protein shake,”​ Scholtes said.

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