BGG, which operates its astaxanthin operations under the aegis of its subsidiary Algae Health Sciences (AHS), said the expansion at its facility in Yunnan Province was completed over the past 18 months. The construction phase was protracted because of pandemic-induced delays, said AHS CEO Bob Capelli.
The company uses a closed tube production method similar to that used by some other competitors in the market. The Haematococcus pluvialis biomass flows through an extensive series of clear glass tubes that still admit sunlight while keeping potential contaminants out. The method has proven effective but is more complicated and expensive to scale up than is the open pond mode of cultivation.
Chunhua Li, chairman and founder of BGG, said the expansion means BGG will be in a position to fulfill project market demands at least through the end of the decade.
Market continues to expand
Capelli said the astaxanthin market continues to benefit from research as well as education efforts.
“From all indicators, the market growth for Astaxanthin has been considerably higher than the average nutraceutical ingredient over the last several years. This has been due to ongoing extensive clinical research led by BGG, AstaReal (a competitor), universities, and even governmental agencies around the world,” Capelli said.
“Looking forward, the latest market research predicts future compounded annual growth rate in the Astaxanthin market over 8% for the next five years, so our expansion is anticipating the future needs of the industry and helping us to serve our customers smoothly without putting our supply chain under stress,” he added.
Expansion adds flexibility
Capelli noted the expansion will give the company greater flexibility when it comes to meeting market demand by allowing certain parts of the operation to be taken out of production for cleaning and maintenance while still maintaining a high production volume. Keeping the tube matrix in a sanitary condition is the Achilles heel of closed tube systems.
Capelli noted that astaxanthin as an ingredient has not been as affected by shipping constraints as have some other commodities. Being a high value product there is sufficient margin to make shipping the product by air feasible, he said.