“We are the last of the big omega-3 independents,” Snove told us at Vitafoods last month, reflecting on the acquired firms like Martek Biosciences (DSM, €830m), Ocean Nutrition Canada (DSM, €430m) and Pronova Biopharma (BASF, €690m) - activity that has seen a serious consolidation in the sector.
“These new omega-3 giants are good for the industry – they show the strength of the sector and can drive innovation and boost consumer education. But you need the smaller companies as well.”
“We can move faster and have the capacity to be better partners than the giants. We are specialists – we only do omega-3.”
He said the emergence of many new players in Asia, latin America and other parts of the world was also good for the sector and praised the role of the GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s) in engaging with new and old players to encourage best practices in sourcing and processing.
While Epax remains predominantly about anchovy oil-derived omega-3s, the company was bought for €70m in 2010 by a 50-50 joint venture between a venture capitalist (Lindsay Goldberg) and fellow Norwegian krill oil player, Aker Biomarine, and so greater use of the Antarctic source is a possibility.
“There are proprietary blends we are exploring and some studies underway – it’s only natural we talk with Aker on this because there are many pockets of opportunities.”
Algae was also being looked at, with new processing technologies opening up possibilities.
“We have been testing algae for three years and are prepared to move this way and continue to exploit the advantages of our technologies and minimize the disadvantages.”
Snove said formulations were being developed with the mid-priced, high-end food supplements market in mind that may include 675-1000mg of omega-3s but be delivered in smaller capsules than is typical by way of an example.
Despite the economic slowdown that has hit Europe, he said the market “very important to us” and that it continued to develop partnerships with local players like the one it had with French omega-3 supplier, Polaris.
“The European omega-3 market is still in growth compared to many other fast-moving consumer goods [FMCG],” he observed.