Astaxanthin market, farms and benefits continue healthy expansion

“Astaxanthin providers have every reason to believe the ingredient will be a sustainable success with continued growth and benefits,”Scott Steinford, founder of industry insights firm Trust Transparency Center, told NutraIngredients-USA​.

“The science is strong and improving as studies are continuing to be presented. Educated consumers are driving success for ingredients, and the astaxanthin growth supports that thesis.”

Found in the algae species Haematococcus pluviali​s and some other natural sources, astaxanthin has long been approved for use as a colorant in fish feed – think adding red pigment to the flesh of farmed salmon – but skyrocketed to fame as a dietary supplement following a high-profile mention on daytime television .

Fame drives farm expansions

In 2011, alternative medicine proponent Dr. Joseph Mercola appeared on The Dr. Oz show, presenting astaxanthin as “the No.1 supplement you’ve never heard of that you should be taking”​. The long-running health and wellness talk show aired from 2009 to earlier this year when host Dr. Mehmet Oz shifted focus to his campaign for US Senate.

Bolstered by what became known as “the Dr. Oz effect”​, business boomed overnight, and first movers in the natural astaxanthin category responded by ramping up production capacity as global demand outstripped supply.

Tokyo-based Fuji Chemical Industry Co. doubled production capacity of its AstaReal branded ingredient at its indoor bioreactor in Sweden and broke ground on a new facility in Washington State shortly thereafter. Cyanotech Corporation followed suit, growing its open pond production system by 33% along the Hawaiian coastline to produce BioAstin soft gels and water dispensable powder, and Israeli manufacturer Algatech doubled closed tube production capacity for AstaPure bulk astaxanthin in the Arava desert.

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