Solix Algredients re-brands, expands algae-based market options

By: Kay Rios Monday November 30, 2015 0 comments Tags: Fort Collins, Austin Maguire, Solix Algredients, algae


FORT COLLINS -- Fort Collins-based Solix Algredients  has repositioned and re-branded itself to help manufacturers and retailers bring algae-based natural ingredients to health-conscious consumers.Solix_logoUSE_1

Under its new name adopted in October, Solix Algredients has extended its algal cultivation expertise by offering two new ingredient options to companies that create dietary supplements and personal care products. 

Solix’s first commercial product, Solasta Astaxanthin, is a non-GMO, vegetarian astaxanthin extract taken from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis, which is considered the richest natural source of the antioxidant. Solasta Astaxanthin is being sold to manufacturers and marketers of dietary supplements and personal care applications.

To create Solasta, natural strains of Haematococcus pluvialis are cultivated in enclosed photobioreactors using purified water to produce algal biomass. The algae are harvested through centrifugation and the astaxanthin is extracted using super-critical carbon dioxide, which ensures the safety, quality, and consistency.

“We extract the active ingredient astaxanthin from the algae and it ends up as a dark-colored oleo resin,” says Solix President and Chief Executive Officer Austin Maguire. “We then sell it to companies that put them into gel caps for dietary supplements people can take every morning.”Austin_MaguireUSE

Because of astaxanthin’s unique chemical structure, Maguire says the dietary supplements may help protect the central nervous system, eyes, skin, joint, and muscle tissues against effects of oxidation and inflammation. Solix’s website adds that, “Topical application of algal astaxanthin has also been found to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and the size of age spots, and improved skin elasticity and moisture.”

“I’ve taken it for about nine months and I notice a difference. I really notice less eye strain from sitting at a computer,” Maguire says.

The second product is Solmega DHA. “Solasta was launched in October and we are working on Solmega right now, but have not yet officially launched it. We’re working with potential suppliers.”

Maguire says it’s similar to Solasta in that production focuses on natural non-GMO vegetarian and healthy ingredients. Solmega DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is derived from Schizochytrium., a marine microalga that produces high levels of DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. That product will hit the market in the near future, Maguire says.

Solix Algredients’ experience with algae began with its founding in 2006 as Solix Biofuels, a company designed to provide algae based biofuels. Under that name, it developed an algal growth system (AGS) based on a patented, extended-surface area closed photobioreactor panels.

The AGS produced algal biomass and Solix operated a demonstration facility in southwestern Colorado for several years. That was during the days when high oil prices had people scrambling for biofuel alternatives. As the price per barrel dropped significantly, Maguire says Solix began to look at different ways to use the system and what else might be done with the algae.

Austin, who has a chemical engineering degree from University College Dublin in Ireland, joined the company in December 2013. He began his career with Irish Refining Company in Cork, Ireland as a process and project engineer in an Exxon-managed oil refinery. He later moved on to Angus Isochem, an American/French contract pharmaceutical manufacturing joint venture.

He served as president at Calera Corporation, a cleantech startup company in California, and also served as president of Tate & Lyle Sucralose Inc. Austin led the SPLENDA Sucralose business from early 1997 and, under his guidance, sales more than doubled over the last four years of his tenure to over $300 million with profits exceeding $100 million.

Bringing his market abilities to Solix, Maguire began to see the possibilities. “We focused on the dietary supplement industry with our first two products. We’d find cheaper ways to make our products and take them into the mainstream food-and-beverage industry.”

Scott Steinford, president of the Natural Algae Astaxanthin Association (NAXA), vouches for Solix’s abilities. “I have a long-standing relationship with the leaders of Solix Algredients and can attest to the integrity and value they represent to not only this industry but the business community as a whole. Solix has an impressive history and experience with cultivation of algae from Haematococcus pluvialis and is providing Solasta extracted in the U.S.” 

NAXA was founded in 2014 to promote and further advance the market for natural astaxanthin derived from the microalgae for use in foods and dietary supplements. It is a trade association of companies engaged in the cultivation, production and supply of natural astaxanthin.

“NAXA’s educational efforts are focused on differentiating astaxanthin derived from Haematococcus pluvialis from other materials, while informing regulators, industry and consumers alike about scientific research confirming the health benefit, ingredient quality standards, and analytical methods for ingredient validation,” Steinford said.

Steinford said he sees the market potential. “The astaxanthin market is increasing in size as more retail brands and consumers are realizing the increasing value of astaxanthin supplementation.  Astaxanthin usage is increasingly being introduced to more supplement brands, but is also finding its way into food, beverage and cosmetic products.”  

But, he adds, that’s not new.  “Products have been derived from algae for decades, not just with astaxanthin but others as well. While it’s not new, it’s advancing. The specific area where we are advancing education and clinical research is on astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis not on other forms from synthetic types or derived from petroleum products.

“There’s increasing evidence and science behind the benefits of it in a supplementation role. The value Solix brings as an additional player is an important contributor to that value received by the consumer.”

Maguire says the public will hear more of the possibilities in the future. He says there’s already a focus on skin benefits in the market, and he’s seen that grow in other countries including Japan and Korea.

“Right now, the topical creams are very expensive and high-end. We’d like to produce the form that can be used in those products and we’re also looking at different forms for these applications.”

Stay tuned.   



Kay Rios

About the Author: Kay Rios

Kay Rios, Ph.D., is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Colorado State Magazine, 25North, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Business World, Fence Post, Triangle Review, Changing Woman, Style Magazine, Northern Colorado Business Report, ArtLinc and the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn.