A Hawaiian-based company that has developed a process to grow natural astaxanthin was named today as the winner of the Seafood Innovation Award.

The award went to Kuehnle AgroSystems (KAS), in a virtual presentation as part of the North Atlantic Seafood Forum, which this year is being held as an online event. KAS is trialling production of low-cost, natural astaxanthin from algae at a tenth of the typical cost of a naturally sourced product.

Astaxanthin, a naturally occurring substance in algae and seafood, is used as an aquafeed feed supplement and colourant – it gives salmon and pink flamingos their distinctive hue – and as a dietary supplement for human consumption. As well as its colour effect, it is a powerful natural antioxidant.

Astaxanthin is typically synthesised for aquafeed, but KAS believes that farmers and consumers would prefer to use a naturally sourced version.

The award was made after the audience voted on an online presentation by KAS Chief Executive Dr Heidi Kuehnle; and the award jury also determined the winner based on the presentation, innovative solution and market potential.

Accepting the award for the company, director Claude Kaplan said: “The NOK 100,000 prize is very welcome but even more than that, the recognition is important to us.”

KAS was the winner out of a shortlist that also included:

  • Seas of Norway – which uses aquaculture residues to grow seaweed as a crop and a “natural biofilter”;
  • MicroClean – a company which is developing a non-chemical treatment to remove pathogens in seafood processing;
  • Blue Lion Labs – which offers an early warning system for harmful algal blooms based on machine learning;
  • SeaRAS – which provides water quality monitoring for RAS systems;
  • Pure Lobster – a business farming Australian redclaw lobsters in RAS facilities in Norway;
  • Ocean Rainforest – a Faeroes-based kelp producer; and
  • Seaguard – which has developed water purification technology using a filter from business AqOm and also an AqOm-based aquafeed.

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