Krill swimming into the omega-3s category

Antioxidant-rich crustacean is being eyed for its vast potential for human nutrition international Typical omega-3s sources such as fish, algae and flax may soon have a new commercial rival if the crustacean krill fulfils its increasingly rumored potential.

Although refusing to go on record, two or three major fish-oil suppliers are known to be investigating the potential of krill as an addendum and perhaps long-term alternative to fish oil as an omega-3s source.

Leading krill supplier, Quebec-based Neptune Technologies and Bioresources, recently entered into R&;D agreements with Nestlé and Yoplait; it hopes this will lead to the food giants incorporating the ingredient into food products within one to two years.

Neptune's vice president of business development, Thierry Houillon, told Functional Ingredients that while Neptune's krill oil was present in many supplements products, the company was focused on functional foods. "We are very hopeful about the Nestlé and Yoplait partnerships, and have had interest from other major players who are interested in krill not only because of its omega-3s content but its antioxidant potential."

Yoplait said its partnership with Neptune demonstrated its "strategic ambition to enter into the functional-foods market with products that have demonstrated their functionality in clinical research of the highest standard."

"Yoplait will focus as a priority on ingredients of natural origin that have shown a clinically proven potential," said Yoplait's vice president of R&;D and quality, Dr Alexandre Voirin.

A Novel Foods application had been lodged with the European Commission for Neptune Krill Oil, Neptune's flagship proprietary ingredient, approval for which the Nestlé and Yoplait deals hinged, Houillon said. It was also researching other potential marine sources such as calanus, red crab, and other fish and crustaceans.

There are 85 species of the deepwater marine planktonic crustacean, or deepwater shrimp, which Neptune says is the "planet's most abundant animal biomass," and which when captured and converted to oil, pack 48 times the antioxidant punch of standard fish oils, according to ORAC antioxidant scales.
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