As reported last year by NutraIngredients-USA, HBC has spent about a decade honing its proprietary processes and building the clinical substantiation for its ingredient portfolio, which includes ProGo (bioactive peptides); OmeGo (salmon oil); and CalGo (collagenic hydroxyapatite calcium).
All of the ingredients are produced by upcycling the cast-offs from their parent company’s salmon business: Hofseth International is a major player in the global salmon business and the largest exporter of Norwegian salmon to the US.
The company also recently confirmed the NDI status of ProGo from the US Food and Drug Administration, having already achieved this for its CalGo and OmeGo ingredients.
“It feels like the stars are starting to align,” James Berger, Chief Commercial Officer at Hofseth BioCare ASA, told NutraIngredients-USA. “There are a lot of things happening and this feels like an inflection point for us.”
In addition to the ingredients’ upcycled and sustainability credentials, the science around their health benefits appears to be opening up unique product positions for brands. ProGo, for example, does not contain iron, but has been shown to support healthy ferritin and hemoglobin levels by upregulating a gene called FTH1. The ingredient also upregulates HMOX1, a gene that encodes heme oxygenase (HO), an enzyme system important for cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.
“We are the only non-iron containing ingredient available on the market today that can use ‘iron supplementation’ claims such as ‘improves energy, haemoglobin levels and red blood cell production’,” said Berger. “ProGo is an innovative solution that is dependent on understanding the mode of action of our collagen peptides, which is not something that any other producer can use.”
The iron-boosting activity was reported in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, which compared ferritin and hemoglobin levels following consumption of salmon protein hydrolysate tablets or whey protein hydrolysate powder in 48 iron-deficient adults.
Sixteens grams per day of ProGo led to an increase in hemoglobin levels of 14% after six weeks, compared to only 2% in the whey group. In addition, ferritin levels increased by 140% in the ProGo group, but increased by less than 20% in the whey group.
Other papers published in peer-review journals support the ingredient’s potential for weight management and leucine increases for sports nutrition applications.
“We believe that ProGo’s attributes place it in a strong position to target ‘women’s health’ and the ‘beauty from within’ segment,” Berger told us.
Products are already available in different global markets with ProGo that are making ferritin- or iron status-related claims, he added.
“Some of the more responsive routes to market have been in Asia, as they tend to be more sensitive to women’s health and beauty from within categories,” said Berger. “That being said, the [US] pipeline is building, and we are expecting more launches beyond just Nestlé brands in 2023.”
The enzymatic process that makes the bioactive peptides also yields the OmeGo oil. The ingredient does not undergo fractionation or concentration of the EPA and DHA omega-3s as may be performed in the production of other fish oils.
“The method of production ensures minimal oxidation, and the absence of chemical processing and high temperatures results in an extremely stable and nutritious product that exemplifies all the benefits of eating whole, fresh fish,” said Berger. “The four-year shelf life without the need for adding antioxidants speaks volumes.”
The resulting oil is therefore not just about the EPA and DHA content, but also contains a host of other fatty acids, antioxidants like astaxanthin and zeaxanthin, and select lipoproteins and other small molecules.
OmeGo is positioned for heart, cognitive, eye and joint health, with data from HBC studies showing that the oil may reduce levels serum levels of oxLDL-GP, an independent biomarker of cardiovascular risk, which the company linked to its anti-oxidation effects, and not from the EPA and DHA fractions. A recent study published in Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry indicated that OmeGo could outperform a processed cod liver oil in inhibiting the inflammatory response in animal models of asthma.
“The long list of clinical and pre-clinical data showing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-allergic benefits confirms the centuries old assumption that eating fish oil is indeed incredibly good for you,” said Berger. “This is another source of great innovation in an otherwise commoditised sector.”
CalGo – Collagenic hydroxyapatite calcium
HBC has also found a use for fish bones, which they turn into CalGo, a microcrystalline hydroxyapatite form of calcium. The ingredient also contains phosphorus and collagen.
The combination of calcium and collagen means the product is of interest to products positioned for bone and joint health. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Science found that the salmon bone calcium increased femur dimension and mineral density in lab rats significantly more than other forms of calcium, including calcium carbonate and calcium gluconate.
“Interestingly, CalGo now has the biggest pipeline of interest in the US market,” said Berger. “Natural hydroxyapatite (and undenatured collagen) has been absent in bone and joint health solutions from most of major consumer health brand portfolios.
“So, the unique clinical study showing that CalGo, nature’s natural bone formula, is six times more absorbable and bioavailable than calcium carbonate has strengthened its position as a new nutritional ingredient to help with some of the most pressing needs in the “health ageing category”.
“The formula: undenatured collagen type II, natural calcium phosphate and zinc – is an all-in-one powerful solution, backed by science.”
“A simple message that is starting to hit home”
Berger added that the company is continuing to build on its scientific portfolio for the three ingredients, with “more data expected before the end of 2022 continuing into 2023.
“Immune system benefits, anti-inflammatory effects, gut health and bone and joint health categories are now the most sought after by consumers according to independent surveys, and unsurprisingly, eating whole fish including the bones is a sure way to maintain human health – this is a simple message that is starting to hit home,” he said. “Eat more fish or supplement with ingredients that are minimally processed and provide a close proxy to eating fish and reap the nutritional rewards.”