Qualitas launches line of vegan omega-3s products under iWi name

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: vegan, Veganism, Omega-3 fatty acid, Algae, Plant-based foods, plant-based, Omega-3 supplements

iWi grows its algae on this farm in Columbus, NM, and at another site in Texas.  iWi photo.
iWi grows its algae on this farm in Columbus, NM, and at another site in Texas. iWi photo.
Algae grower Qualitas Health has launched a new line of plant-based omega-3s supplements under the iWi brand name.

Pronounced “eee wee,” the company says it takes its name from a Maori word meaning “tribe.” The moniker is meant to convey the idea that humans are all one tribe and companies in the nutrition space need to work toward a more sustainable future.

iWi is the platform Qualitas is using to bring its finished products to market. Qualitas now has algae farms operating in Columbus, NM and Imperial, TX. Both have similar attributes of access to brackish groundwater, unsuitable for other agricultural operations, and abundant sunshine. Qualitas was based first in Israel and later in Houston. The first farm was the West Texas location, but flooding issues and other production problems there awoke the company to the need for backup production.

Experienced partners pair up

Current CEO Miguel Calatayud was brought on in the wake of the 2015 flooding disaster that saw a major overhaul of the company’s management. Last year, Qualitas partnered with commercial crop producers Green Stream Farms to expand to the New Mexico location, which was previously run by algae company Sapphire Energy. 

“When I took over two years ago, taking products into retail was the strategy I laid out,”​ Calatayud told NutraIngredients-USA. “I have always been in retail.  I used to oversee the production of 700 million pounds of vegetables that were sold in retail outlets.”

iwi product
iWi has launched four new products based on its algal oils.

The new products are based on the company’s proprietary production technology, which uses a strain of the photosynthetic algae species Nanochloropsis oculata​ that yields an oil rich in EPA bound in a unique glycolipid form. 

“iWi is the platform we will be using to achieve our main goal of providing finished products,”​ Calatayud said. “We have been focused on scaling up, and we now have two facilities in full scale production.”

The new products feature both EPA (from Qualitas’s original ingredient, Almega PL) and algal oil based DHA. The iWi ‘Omega 3’ branded product features 151 mg of EPA and 100 mg of DHA in 850 mg of algal oil. The company’s claims include gluten free, non GMO, vegan and sustainably farmed.

Functional boost

In addition to the vegan and sustainability messages, Calatayud said the company believes the products are functionally superior, too. He said research the company has done in the past with the Almega PL ingredient—an EPA only source—showed that the uptake of EPA into the blood streams of the ten participants was greater than what was achieved with krill oil.

“We are the only omega-3s product that has both the phospholipids and glycolipids,”​ Catalayud said. The company uses the uptake study, which was conducted by noted omega-3s expert Dr Philip Calder PhD of the University of Southampton in England​, to support it’s “Higher Absorption than Fish or Krill Oil” claim. The products are for sale on Amazon, at $30 a bottle for a month’s supply at the 250 mg omega-3s daily dose, and are also being sold in Sprouts Farmers Market stores and in Vitamin Shoppe outlets.

Calatayud said that the algal oil products are the near term play, but a host of other products are on the horizon, too. The company’s algal biomass is almost 40% protein, so algal protein products will launch sometime in 2019, he said.

Join us for our FREE omega-3s forum on June 26

NutraIngredients-USA has scheduled an online forum covering the omega-3s universe scheduled for June 26. The forum will cover sustainability questions, new product forms such as vegetarian or algal forms of omega-3s, the state of the market, and the most recent science in the sector. Among the speakers will be GOED executive director Ellen Schutt, Johnathan Napier from Rothampsted Research and Dr. William Harris, PhD, of the University of South Dakota. For more information on this FREE panel, please click here​.

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