The organization was formed more than a year ago along defensive lines at first to push the idea that astaxanthin produced from the Haematococcus pluvialis aglal species should be considered to be a separate entity from synthetic astaxanthin. NAXA has three founding members, Fuji Chemical Industry Co Ltd., Algatechnologies Ltd. and Cyanotech Corporation, all of which produce astaxanthin from Haematococcus microalgae. In the spring of last year the association, which at the time was under the leadership of Ed Wyszumiala, made a brief splash with an education session at the Expo West trade show about the differences between natural astaxanthin and the synthetic forms, which are available from DSM and other suppliers. Among the differences highlighted by the association at the session were the different stereoisomers present in the two forms, differences that the presenter said accounted for different antioxidant activities. The association has claimed that the natural form has 20 times or more antioxidant potential, based on a 2013 study conducted by Brunswick Labs.
But after that brief foray, the association fell mostly silent, and Wyszumiala left. NutraIngredients-USA asked Steinford, what does he plan to do differently?
“I know how hard it is to get a trade organization started. I think to judge the success of a trade organization based on one year is not entirely accurate,” Steinford said. “I wouldn’t attach my name to anything that I didn’t believe had benefit for the industry. I think my record, building a company (ZMC-USA), staring an organization (the CoQ10 Association), I think it stands for itself.”
Steinford said the goal of the organization in the short term remains the same: To educate the public and the market on the differences between the natural and synthetic forms.
“NAXA was created in early 2014 with goals of providing education for the advancement of natural algae astaxanthin and identifying the term of what ‘nature identical’ really means because it was being thrown around very liberally. When people use the term ‘nature identical,’ that is more from the base chemical formula. The natural form has higher bioavailability, which has been demonstrated, and a much higher ORAC value. The synthetic form has a petrochemical aspect of production that the natural molecules don’t,” he said.
Among the ways the association will communicate that message is through a website which Steinford said should be ready for unveiling within a month to six weeks. But beyond that manning the ramparts mission, Steinford said the goal is to support the overall ingredient health message and eventually to help grow the market pie.
“This is an element of my quest to build a better industry which I’ve maintained for 15 years now. The single ingredient organizations have their place. The probiotics group is up and running and GOED is the shining example. Astaxanthin has a strong profile in terms of market use and growth,” he said.
Growing the membership is also a potential future goal, Steinford said. As the group is set up as a supplier organization, potential members would always be relatively few, but he did say two Chinese companies, BGG and InnoBio, could be potential members. Another, Valensa/Parry, would be more problematical target, both because the company is developing its own synthetic form of astaxanthin and because it has had past legal battles with current members of the association, Steinford said.