Nofima – Adding value to marine ingredients

Ana Ferreira (BioMarine Community Manager) 

Nofima, a leading institute for applied research within the fields of fisheries, aquaculture and food research, has been accompanying the BioMarine Business Convention as a key partner to boost innovative and sustainable usage of marine resources. This year again we will count with the support of Nofima as one of our main sponsors to bring all their expertise, new developments and innovations to leverage the new strategies and solutions that will come out of the 2019 BioMarine Convention.

We talked to Ragnhild Dragøy Whitaker, Research Director for the Marine Biotechnology group at Nofima, to unveil what the company is working on and what they are preparing for the nearest future. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to know more and prepare your interactions with Nofima’s team at the BioMarine Convention 2019!


Innovative use of marine resources to answer current market trends

Given the market trends that are pushing for more sustainable bioactive ingredients, and the awareness for the potential of the marine resources, Nofima has a very well-defined focus, as Ragnhild explained – “Nofima has worked with the industry, academia, the governmental bodies and the society for several years with the strategic focus of sustainable exploitation of all marine resources. We combine scientific knowledge with insight about industry needs and couple this with market trends and acceptance, regulatory frameworks and societal needs”. Moreover, Nofima has a strategic advantage that allows it to stand out in the market, as Ragnhild shared - “Our advantage is that we work in the entire value chain, such that we can exploit all marine resources, from the time the biomass is generated in the ocean (or elsewhere), through processing, production and market introduction”.

When talking about trends, Ragnhild shared with us what will be Nofima’s positioning in the market for the foreseeable future and what are the industries the company will be focusing on – “Many of the marine industries have potential and there will likely be increased aquaculture of many species, as well as harvesting of new biological resources and focus on total exploitation of the created and harvested biomasses. In Norway, like in many other countries, we have a bioeconomy strategy focused on efficient and sustainable exploitation of renewable biological resources as well as reduction of gas emissions. At Nofima we work strategically towards sustainable food production for the future, and we will focus specifically on the food, feed and nutraceutical sectors going forward”


From undervalued biomass to added-value products

Nofima has been focusing on extracting value from underutilized or low value biomass to bring new and value-added products to the market, as Ragnhild explained – “This often includes off-cuts from the fisheries industries - heads, backs, skins, intestines and bones. Therefore, fish processing left over biomass from whitefish, pelagic, aquaculture are common biomasses that we try to develop into marketable products for food, nutraceuticals, feeds or chemical components”. Moreover, there are also new biomasses that are entering Nofima’s value chain such as – “Micro and macro algae, shellfish and shellfish by-products, tunicates, mesopelagic fish, plankton and others. These are both farmed and harvested resources, some of them invasive. In addition, mesopelagic fisheries are currently being established from which we are developing new products. The fisheries for low trophic species, like krill and calanus, are currently in development and the optimal utilization of these biomasses is important and something that we are working on”. At the same time, by working through the entire value chain, the team ensures that all products have a considerable market and that all processes, from extraction to transportation, are sustainable over time.


Exploring the potential of collagen-based by-products 

Collagen is present in many biomasses that are discarded, such as fish skin from processing, which are very often combined with other off-cuts and used for silage, a very low quality and value product. However, Ragnhild explained us how Nofima is making the most of this resource – “Collagen is a large structural molecule that can be processed into different valuable products. For example, collagen peptides have demonstrated beneficial health effects - hair, skin, nails and joints. In addition, collagen can be processed into gelatin, which can be used as a natural gelling agent. Collagen can also be used as a scaffolding molecule is cell tissue cultivation and wound healing. The options are almost endless, and the market is large”. Moreover, marine collagen has clear advantages, as Ragnhild explained “Besides having some different properties from terrestrial collagen, they also benefit from being available to those who do not eat meat, and some fish skins qualify as halal and kosher”.


Scaling up processes and testing out new products

Nofima has been scaling up many different processes for creating ingredients, always matching the market potential and consumer acceptance with the technological and manufactural possibilities that are available for the producers. For this, Nofima has runs and operated Biotep, the national facility for marine bioprocessing, as Ragnhild explained – “Biotep is an open demonstration facility where industry and academia can test out new processes in small industrial scale to create prototypes that can be tested in the market, as well as estimate needs and costs for infrastructure and operational activities. There are many different scale up projects at Biotep, and in some we participate in all different parts of the value chain, including the development of processes in small scale followed by scaling and market testing, market evaluation and introduction strategies. We have also produced commercial products for the industry where the process has already been established in small scale, and we help them take this to a commercial product with the necessary quality and approvals for commercial sales”.


Leveraging bioactive ingredients - The AQUABIOPRO-FIT Project

Another interesting project is the AQUABIOPRO-FIT, where different ingredients from fishes (by-products) are analysed for their nutrients and other bioactive compounds for dietary products. Ragnhild explained us a bit more about this project and its potential – “The AQUABIOPRO-FIT is a very exciting project where we work closely with industry and academic collaborators to take biomass that is not directly usable or palatable in its original form and turn it into products that can be marketed, with proven bioactivities and tested effects on human nutrition and feed for aquaculture. We look at all steps, from the first processing through isolation and purification to formulation in order to conserve and enhance the bioactivity as well as render it in a form that is palatable to the end user”. Some of the projects are already in an advanced stage, such as the inclusion of specific ingredients in salmon burgers – “These ingredients have good health benefits, are rich in proteins and have good physiochemical properties that allows them to be included in fish burgers. Through our own infrastructure and through collaborations we aim to test for effects in feed as well as effects to human health and bioactivities towards cosmetics”


What will Nofima bring to this year’s BioMarine Convention?

This year’s Edition will count with the participation of Nofima in a panel where we will discuss, among other topics, the main challenges related to the exploration of marine ingredients for cosmetics, such as the availability of resources, their sustainable and ethical exploitation and consumer and market acceptance. Ragnhild advanced with a brief discussion on such topics – “I think those are the three major challenges but knowing what is the need your invention will meet is also of great importance. Your idea might be great, but does anybody need it? In addition, many producers see a large market, but do not estimate their share of the market, and thus over-estimate the potential of their ingredient or product. Also, in some cases, the producers don’t include seasonal variations or other changes in their resources or processes into their plans. Moreover, batch-to-batch variation of a product can be large and that will be a challenge, especially if you are an ingredient provider to a formulator. More specifically for cosmetics, the bioavailability of ingredients is tightly connected to formulation, thus the right and consistent formulation is of great importance”. During the session, Nofima will share common mistakes and best practices to overcome these challenges.

In addition, Ragnhild shared what she and her team aim to bring to this year’s Edition – “We aim to share some of the experiences that we have in Nofima, both successes and failures such that we can further the biomarine industry by learning from best practices and avoiding worse practices. I will also bring an open mind and know I will learn a lot and, hopefully, generate new ideas and new collaborations”


For more info about Nofima, check out their website HERE or connect with the Team through the BioMarine Community!

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