According to the company, its new powdered ingredient has higher concentrations of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) than some others on the market - 10 percent DHA for medium oil load or 17 percent for high. This means that formulators need to use less to achieve the same levels of omega-3 fortification, which makes their task considerably easier.
Company spokesperson Kyle Stults told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the ingredient is suitable for use in a range of products, including crackers, breads, bars and cereals. The decision to use powder over oil would depend on the particular processing technology being used.
Stults said that the decision to introduce a powder was partly prompted by requests from existing customers, and partly by the opportunity to attract new customers.
"Martek's new high DHA powder provides food and beverage manufacturers dry mix options for formulation that they have never had before," said CEO Henry 'Pete' Linsert. "[It] has great stability and sensory characteristics while providing a vegetarian DHA."
Martek has always drawn attention to the vegetarian origin of its omega-3, which is derived from microalgae. The best-known source of DHA is fish oil, but this is unsuitable for some sectors of the population, especially vegetarians who have previously had to rely on plant sources of omega-3.
However plants, such as flax, contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which the body must convert into DHA before it can be used, and some of the benefit is lost along the way.
Interest in omega-3s has mushroomed in the last few years, thanks to positive studies linking the DHA and EPA to heart health and, increasingly, cognitive function.
This, in turn, has led to an influx of products on the market, and market researcher Mintel has identified omega-3 fortification as one of the major trends for 2006.
There are signs that Martek is on course to be a major force in the development of the omega-3 foods market. In February 2005 the company signed a license agreement with Kellogg for the development of food products using Martek DHA - although no products have yet come to market under this agreement due to the long lead times.
Moreover certain adjustments to the manufacturing process have yielded a new, lower cost product offering, which translates to a better price point. This, in turn, may open the door for more food applications.