Extracting the most powerful antioxidant on earth from a natural source is quite a challenge. Adding consistency at high-quality standards does not happen overnight. Valensa, the Florida-based nutraceutical company, has released the secret behind the production of its Zanthin Natural Astaxanthin as the company believes it's second to none.
Valensa said the company has gone to great lengths "to partner with nature in order to benefit mankind".
The production facility of Valensa’s Haematococcus microalgae is located in the picturesque Elqui Valley in Chile, on a site nestled between grape vines, vineyards and fruit orchards. The plant is operated by Valensa’s sister division, Alimtec, S.A.
The specific strain of Haematococcus used has been selected for its ability to thrive in this microclimate while minimising the impact on the environment.
Under Alimtec’s environmental stewardship programme, special attention is paid to the conservation of groundwater, that is filtered, softened to remove minerals, then sterilized for use.
Dino Saltarini, Operation Manager for the Alimtec site, explains: “The hybrid production system begins with an optimized 'green' growth phase that uses sterilised seed culture flasks, then moves to bioreactors in a greenhouse setting.
The commercial production of the "red" growth phase, characteristic of the intense pigmentation of astaxanthin, occurs in a controlled open pond propagation system.
Astaxanthin in the making
The resulting biomass becomes rich in total lipids, carotenoids, and, most importantly, astaxanthin. Operational improvements and strain and production optimisation have allowed the plant to achieve greater than two-fold increase in efficiency with fewer inputs, simply by defining the parameters that are best for Haematococcus growth.
But, getting Haematococcus to produce a rich source of astaxanthin is much harder than it would seem.
According to Larry McCarty, food industry executive and VP of Global Manufacturing and Supply Chain at Valensa International, figuring out how to manage Haematococcus production and bringing a quality proposition to the market is actually a tremendous feat.
“Haematococcus gives us a great platform to produce astaxanthin. But harnessing that power of nature requires tremendous skill and dedication,” McCarty explains. “The microalgae teaches us how to look at growth conditions that optimise for cell density and astaxanthin content and yield, and we need to be willing to learn from this.”
Through collaborations with local government officials and academic institutions, the companies have gained tremendous insights on the local weather, climate and rainfall conditions.
They have worked with experts to optimise the nutrient inputs for Haematococcus biomass growth and create the ideal process for the production of their strain at the Alimtec facility.
McCarty elaborates: “Defining the production conditions for Haematococcus biomass that makes it tailor-made for our supercritical CO2 extraction facility in Eustis, Florida, has been a journey.
"For instance, we have developed a process that achieves over 98% efficiency for cracked cells so the extraction of astaxanthin is as complete as possible. The profile of the biomass is ideally suited to our operations here in Florida."
McCarty says Valensa doesn't just grow Haematococcus and then extract astaxanthin. "We have a truly unique, thoughtfully conceived, carefully managed and optimized end-to-end solution for astaxanthin production we are very proud of," he says. "We are now able to deliver consistent quality and a value proposition in our Zanthin Natural Astaxanthin by learning from, and working in harmony with, nature."
The Alimtec and Valensa partnership has achieved a sustainable end-to-end supply solution that puts quality at the forefront.
By also leveraging the capability of Valensa’s analytical team, in partnership with the production and extraction operations, and by adhering to strict Quality Systems standards, Valensa is able to deliver the quality proposition to the market in a seamless way.
Zanthin is recognised as a quality ingredient, produced consistently to the highest standards. But, the behind-the-scenes work to make this happen by leveraging nature and science and technology for the benefit of Valensa’s customers is a partnership between man and nature that the company is very proud of.