ARCHIVED - Taste omega-3 goodness, not the sea

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October 07, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario

Imagine drinking a glass of orange juice or letting chocolate melt in your mouth while getting the nutritional equivalent of eating fish. That's the idea behind "functional foods" – a rapidly growing industry trend a young Halifax company is riding on.

Today, only ten years after its inception, Ocean Nutrition Canada claims to be the world's leading provider of top-quality omega-3 fish oil as a nutritional supplement and functional food ingredient. NRC is proud to have helped this company build a solid foundation for success.

Omega-3 oils, clinically proven to improve heart health and mental functioning, are gaining attention as a promising treatment for arthritis, depression, macular degeneration and other chronic conditions. But eating fish isn't for everybody. Adding omega-3s to manufactured foods like bread is an inexpensive way to ensure people get the health benefits without having to buy expensive supplements.

"The challenge has been to provide omega-3 fish oil in a formulation that won't give foods an unpleasant taste or smell," says Ocean Nutrition Canada's President, Robert Orr. "That's where our company's patented micro-encapsulation technology has given us a distinct competitive advantage."

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This unique technology stabilizes and transforms fish oil into a powder finer than flour. Ocean Nutrition Canada's MEG-3® powder can withstand baking and has no fishy taste or smell, making it easy to add to bread, milk, yogurt and other products.

Thanks to effective marketing, the company has seen steadily rising sales since patenting its encapsulation technology. This year alone, food manufacturers on several continents have struck agreements with Ocean Nutrition Canada to incorporate MEG-3® fish powder into their products.

Danone and Tropicana, two major North American manufacturers, now display the MEG-3® logo on their yogurt and juice. A Canadian chocolate manufacturer has recently followed suit as have companies producing baby food, nutritional bars, bread, pizza and other ready-made foods.

Even Dr. Andrew Weil, America's best-known health guru, recently began incorporating Ocean Nutrition's fish oil ingredient into his own dietary supplements. "We decided to switch to the Meg-3 EPA/DHA fish oil because Ocean Nutrition offers high-quality, molecularly distilled fish oil that is stringently tested for heavy metals and other contaminants," Dr. Weil stated in a company news release.

 
 
The NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)
 
 

The NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) has supported Ocean Nutrition Canada since its inception, providing technical guidance, contact with top scientists, R&D project planning support and funding.

NRC-IRAP also recently helped the company develop and commercialize an immune-boosting supplement.

"No other organization could have collaborated more effectively as we developed our products and processes," says President Robert Orr. "In our early days, NRC-IRAP connected us with experts such as Professor Bob Ackman – Canada's top authority on marine oils and omega-3 fatty acids. And that was just the beginning."

Ocean Nutrition Canada is currently working with NRC-IRAP on developing a blood-pressure lowering supplement, omega-3 oils from marine micro-algal sources, and an inexpensive Kosher MEG-3® powder.

 
 

Ocean Nutrition Canada is gearing up to capture a big share of the emerging functional foods market, estimated to be worth billions. "The omega-3 opportunity is huge right now," says Orr. "We're increasing our production capacity and enhancing our refining and encapsulation technologies so that our omega-3 products can be incorporated into a wider variety of foods." As Orr sees it, once the company has strong, steady revenues from the omega-3 market, it will resume the R&D it had begun on several other marine-based bioactive compounds.

Employment at Ocean Nutrition Canada jumped from 30 people in 1998 to 360 in 2006. The company's current annual revenues are running at $100 million with clients in the US, Canada, China, Europe and Australia.

Over the last eight years, the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program has been a guiding partner in the development of the company's R&D strategy and the commercialization of its new technologies. As a percentage of sales, Ocean Nutrition Canada invests more in R&D than any of its competitors and has more than 60 patented technologies, many now licensed to other firms.

Since only a tiny fraction of marine compounds have been identified and characterized, the ocean's the limit when it comes to this Canadian company's growth.


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National Research Council of Canada
613-991-1431
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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