Pronova Biocare: Diving Head First Into Omega 3’s
The goal of Pronova Biocare, Lysaker, Norway, is simple yet complicated: To be the largest, most profitable, most innovative and knowledgeable omega 3 company. Seeing as how it has more than 150 years of experience in the field of omega 3 fatty acids from fish sources, it seems the company won’t have a problem achieving that goal.
Currently, Pronova Biocare is a part of Hydro Pronova, which is a fully owned subsidiary of Norsk Hydro. Norsk Hydro is one of the giants of Scandinavian industry within oil and gas, light metals and agriculture, which recently announced its intention to find new owners for Pronova Biocare.
Pronova’s product arsenal can be applied to pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and functional foods, and includes thebrand Omacor®, which is a pharmaceutical product developed from selected marine oils. Currently, this particular product is approved for secondary prevention of post-MI (heart attack) and for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia (a blood lipid disorder) in Europe.
Pronova also develops a range of consumer products—Pikasol®, Triomega® and Triomar®. Although these products continue to enjoy a successful run in Scandinavia, they are not yet available to the U.S. market. In 2004 Pronova hopes to bring its range of consumer products to the U.S. where the knowledge about the benefits of omega 3’s is growing and rapid growth seems certain.
For the nutraceuticals business-to-business segment, Pronova offers its range of low to high concentrated omega 3 EPA/DHA oils under the brand name EPAX®. Pronova’s EPAX oils include a wide variety of concentrations as well as differing EPA/ DHA ratios. Most of Pronova’s EPAX products are offered as either ethylester or triglyceride concentrates. Although EPAX products are used mainly in soft gels, Pronova’s customers have been known to use them in a variety of food products as well.
Quality control and safety are aspects of manufacturing that the company takes very seriously, which along with its brands, make Pronova a standout in its category. This is because the production of omega 3 concentrates is a highly complex process, requiring great care in the selection of crude marine oils, handling at every stage, sampling and quality control analyses during different purification processes and final bulk packaging. Pronova’s purification process, molecular distillation included, produces a marine omega 3 oil that is extremely low in PCB’s, heavy metals and other man-made pollutants, mercury included. All EPAX oils’ mercury content is far below the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Omega-3 Working Group voluntary monograph standard of 0.1 mg/kg.
On the research front, the company’s activities revolve around a unique combination of natural resources and groundbreaking basic science. Intellectual property rights for Pronova have been secured mainly as granted patents for technologies related to process as well as use for applications. Current areas of research exploration have led to the formation of its three basic pillars: Joint care: EPAX 4510 TG—EPA dominant; Heart health: EPAX 5500 TG/EE and EPAX 6000 TG/EE—more equal EPA/DHA distribution; and Brain health: EPAX 1050 TG—DHA dominant (for Alzheimer’s dementia, postpartum depression, eye health and central nervous system development before birth).
Due to the rapidly expanding market for omega 3 EPA and DHA, the company’s board of directors recently approved an expansion of its production facilities. The major investment will take place in the Ålesund (Norway) plant, which, according to the company, will significantly increase its capacity, especially in its ability to produce high concentrates. The expansion will also give the company several other advantages, including a greater degree of flexibility and shorter lead times, as well as a fully automated production flow. Further, all TG products will be enzymatically re-esterified, ensuring a milder treatment of the oil and as such, increased quality of the final product. Lastly, the company has made a commitment to increase its staff by at least 10%. In total the investment will cost the company €6.5 million.
For the future, Baldur Hjaltason, sales manager—Industrial Brand, said, “The omega 3 market has so far been driven by the supplement industry. We are seeing healthy growth in this area, which we expect will continue in coming years as more and more people are becomeing aware of the health benefits of omega 3’s.” He added, “The biggest growth for low concentrated fish oil will come from the food/nutraceuticals market, while the growth in high concentration fish oil continues to be driven by the dietary supplement segment.”—R.M.W.
Pronova Biocare a.s.
Lysaker Torg. 8
P.O. Box 420
N-1327 Lysaker, Norway