HI Japan 2019

Chilean astaxanthin firm eyes potential in South East Asia

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chile-based Atacama Bio Natural Products S.A. which grows algae for astaxanthin, is looking to expand in Asia ©Atacama Bio Natural Products S.A
Chile-based Atacama Bio Natural Products S.A. which grows algae for astaxanthin, is looking to expand in Asia ©Atacama Bio Natural Products S.A

Related tags: Chile, Astaxanthin, Asia, microalgae

Chile-based Atacama Bio Natural Products S.A. which grows algae for astaxanthin, is looking to expand in Asia, with a more natural and sustainable process and product.

At the recent HI Japan show in Tokyo, NutraIngredients-Asia​ spoke to the company’s vice president of global marketing, Jose Tomas Arenas, who said supplementation was not yet a fundamental part of the culture and lifestyle in South America.

People (in Chile) only take supplements when they are sick. I don’t see the chance for local markets to grow fast, but hopefully it changes in the next 10 to 15 years​,” he said.

Hence, the firm is prioritising South East Asia, along with the US and India markets.

Astaxanthin has been documented in many clinical studies most notably as a powerful antioxidant with its anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory action.

Arenas said ingredients like astaxanthin could help supplement the diet, especially if it were lacking certain nutrients.

Natural place

The Haematococcus pluvialis​ microalgae is grown at the Atacama Desert in Chile, which has the highest solar irradiation in the world, away from urban, and agricultural zones.

Arenas said astaxanthin was a costly product to manufacture.

He explained the firm grows its microalgae with natural sun, clean water, and in a pristine environment at its site in Chile.

This makes their manufacturing cost 30% less because it does not have to rely on pumping the microalgae, carbon dioxide injection or oxygen separators, and no requiting artificial lighting, he added.

Targeting Asia

The company has now set its sight on Asia where the company sees new opportunities for growth.

We believe that having traceability of the origin of your ingredient, and how sustainable it is to produce, is growing in importance in the Asian market​,” he said.

According to Arenas, the company is focusing on South East Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore as well as India, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Apart from Asia, the company’s natural astaxanthin ingredient can also be found in supplements in Brazil and Netherlands.

The company has also consolidated in the US and the EU, having partnered with distributors there.

He said in the US, sports nutrition was a big opportunity, while in Europe it hopes to tap into the trend for plant-based ingredients.

New ingredient

Arenas shared that the next big trend would be on plant-based protein, and the company is working on spirulina to embrace this opportunity.

We do not have industrial scale production for spirulina at the moment, but we have a team of people who understand how to grow it, and with their knowledge on astaxanthin, we hope to eventually add spirulina into our product portfolio​,” he added.

The pilot plant is based in Chile, at the same location where it grows its astaxanthin.

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