Qualitas announced the distribution agreement with Xsto Solutions for the EPA-rich algae-derived ingredient this week, which gives Xsto exclusivity for sale to the dietary supplement industry in the United States (Qualitas will maintain direct sales to a number of key accounts).
David Hart, Qualitas Health's VP of Marketing, told us that the Almega PL is currently commercially available. “Our algae facility is in commercial-scale production with continuous harvesting of over 6.5 million liters of algae culture. Capacity is being expanded throughout 2014.”
Hart added that the first retail product will be launched this summer, with additional products expected to hit shelves by the end of the year. “The partnership with Xsto is designed to increase our sales reach and better supply strong demand for a sustainable and vegetarian source for omega-3s,” he said.
The Almega PL omega-3 ingredient from Israel’s Qualitas contains omega-3s in both glycolipid and phospholipid form. Qualitas derives its algal oil from a salt water, photosynthetic species of algae called Nannochloropsis oculata. The species yields an oil rich in EPA (with no DHA) that is bound to phospholipids and glycolipids, known together as polar lipids.
These polar lipids have hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails, which reportedly enhance solubility, bioavailability and incorporation into tissues/membranes.
Francis Foley, President of Xsto Solutions, described Almega PL as “one of the most exciting ingredients we’ve seen in the omega-3 category.
“The combination of an EPA-rich, vegetarian and environmentally sustainable omega-3 source with polar lipids for improved bioavailability is new and highly innovative. We are excited about the potential of Almega PL to better satisfy the exploding demand for a vegetarian omega-3.”
There are approximately 35 million vegetarian buyers and 15 million vegans in the US, said Hart, and, “until now, there were a limited number of suppliers of vegetarian omega-3s, and infant formula is one of the main uses for algal DHA”.
The US omega-3 nutraceuticals market is substantial, he added, with $13 billion in sales, forecasted to be $15 billion by 2015. Approximately 17% of US consumers supplement their diet with omega-3.
Hart added that there the agreement with Xsto was a “good fit”, given the distributor’s experience in omega-3s and its focus on value-added branded ingredients. “Their talented and respected sales team will expand our reach in the U.S., which is the largest omega-3 market in the world,” he said.