Simris in brief
Simris is a multi-awarded innovation-based company and pioneers in the development of microalgae as a novel crop and biotechnological production platform. The purpose of the business is to save and protect endangered marine habitats, by producing ingredients from farmed microalgae instead of fish and other marine animals.
Simris has developed an industrial process for growing microalgae to produce omega-3, as an alternative to fish oil and krill. Simris owns the entire value chain from farm to bottle, i.e. from cultivation to finished product. The products are sold under the proprietary Simris® Algae Omega-3 consumer brand, targeted at the globally growing markets for wellness products and plant-based alternatives. Pending Novel Foods approval in the European Union, the products are currently launched on the US market, including trendsetting retailers such as Goop and Erewhon Market. The company also has a distribution agreement in South Korea, and retail agreements with Sweden’s major department store Åhléns and largest pharmacy chain Apoteket.
Simris is one of the first publicly listed vegan companies, and was listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market in 2016. The company is still in development phase and aims to create long-term sustainable profit for its shareholders, in harmony with our society, our environment and the climate.
Microalgae, or phytoplankton, are microscopically small aquatic plants. Just as land-based plants, microalgae grow by photosynthesis, where atmospheric carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen with the help of sunlight. Microalgae constitute the basis of the marine food chain, meaning that many nutrients that are crucial for human and animal health ultimately originate from microalgae. These substances eventually accumulate in higher marine organisms such as fish and seafood through the marine food chain.
Many of these marine species are under the threat of extinction, due to overfishing and the destruction of marine habitats. Furthermore, marine commodities often contain high levels of mercury, PCB, PFAS and dioxins. By sourcing marine commodities directly from microalgae instead of via fish or krill, we obtain better alternatives that are entirely plant-based and without the environmental toxins. In this way, the products are both safer for consumers, but also superior in terms of positive environmental impact.
Cultivation of microalgae is a relatively novel technology at the intersection between biotechnology and precision aquaculture. The commercial potential is considered vast in a number of industries including food, pharma, skincare and advanced materials. However, commercial applications for modern microalgae technology are still limited, as most technology is yet at research stage or restricted to smaller development companies. Simris is one of the leading companies in the field and one of few companies globally that have succeeded to prove their technology at industrial scale and reached market phase for its products.
Contrary to industry standard which uses yeast-like algae grown in closed tanks on sugar substrate, Simris uses photosynthetic algae for the production of omega-3. This process has positive climate effects through the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen. Also, Simris exclusively grows natural algae strains without genetic modifications that are common in conventional bioprocess engineering.
Omega-3s are essential poly-unsaturated fatty acids, meaning we need to obtain them from our diet. In particular, the marine omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) belong to the most important building blocks in our bodies, with numerous important physiological functions. Land-based plants only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a shorter omega-3 form. Our capacity to obtain DHA and EPA from conversion of ALA is limited, and hence it is recommended that we also obtain EPA and DHA from our diet.
Normally, we would obtain these essential fats from eating fatty fish. But not everybody eats enough fatty fish for optimal omega-3 intake, and the levels of environmental toxins and heavy metals in wild fish and fish oil are a matter of concern in many regions. Also, fish is no alternative for vegans, vegetarians, or those allergic to fish.
Simris® Algae Omega-3 is a series of supplements based on the company’s unique algae oil with naturally high content of EPA and DHA. Simris has launched three formulations: one classic omega-3 product, one product for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, and a third product developed for pregnant and nursing women.
Simris® Algae Omega-3 (original) and Simris® Algae Omega-3 for Athletes are unique on the market and contain omega-3 from farmed diatom algae. These algae have long been known for their high levels of omega-3 and safety for food applications, but have not previously been used as food ingredients on the market. Pending Novel Foods approval in the European Union, these products are currently sold in the US and South Korea.
Simris also develops food and wellness products from algae grown by other European suppliers, under the Simris® Select brand. Furthermore, the company has recently started to develop further substances and ingredients, to replace additional commodities from endangered marine species and ocean habitats at risk.
The market for vegan alternatives is growing at exponential rate in line with new diet trends, growing health interest and increased awareness of the climate impact of food. Investments in vegan alternatives totalled USD 930 million in Q1 2020 alone, compared with USD 824 million for the entire year 2019. Half of the US population is thought to be following some type of restriction diet that involves increased consumption of plant foods, whether due to allergies and intolerances, trend diets such as paleo and keto, health reasons, or lifestyle choices.
In addition, wellness is emerging as a major consumer trend, defined by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) as an active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to holistic health. As a whole, the wellness market is estimated at USD 4.2 trillion value, and showed a growth rate of 6.4 percent between 2015 and 2017. Simris targets the growing prestige wellness category as the basis for its product and market strategy, and choice of retailers.
93 percent of the oceans are already fished at their limit or even overfished, according the UN Fisheries and Agriculture Organisation. As a highly profitable product of large-scale reduction fisheries, fish oil for omega-3 supplements is one of the major contributors to the devastation of our oceans. Furthermore, the entire ecosystem in the Antarctic is at risk of collapse, due to increased fishing for krill to meet the growing market demand for omega-3 supplements.
In contrast, Simris’ products preserve fish stocks and marine habitats, with a production process that also has positive climate effects. In this way, Simris sets new standards on the market where consumers are increasingly aware of the link between consumption and environmental issues. Simris has a strong competitive advantage through authentic and unique products, that are better for the climate, the environment, and for ocean health.
Simris And agenda 2030
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its 17 global sustainable development goals aim to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, and to solve the climate crisis. Simris contributes to social and environmental sustainable growth related to several of the sustainable development goals in Agenda 2030.
SDG 2: Zero hunger
Today, about 850 million people in the world live in hunger. The reason is not lack of resources, but unequal access to food and inefficient production. The production of fish meal and fish oil robs humans of food by depleting fish stocks and taking over commodities needed for human consumption. The fish meal and fish oil industry depletes our oceans and removes important protein sources from poor communities that traditionally live on coastal fisheries, and transfers them to feed for farmed fish and omega-3-supplements primarily sold on high income markets. Using algae oil instead of fish oil contributes to more equal access to food globally, instead of depletion of our oceans and robbery of traditional food sources.
SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
According to Agenda 2030, innovation and technological advances are the key to sustainable solutions to both economic and environmental challenges. Simris contributes directly to SDG 9 by taking an innovation all the way from research and development to a novel, clean and sustainable industrial process. Further, we contribute directly to a more sustainable industrial infrastructure through strong elements of industrial symbiosis and circular economy in our production, for example by using natural carbon dioxide emitted during the wheat fermentation process at Absolut Vodka, waste heat from Skånefrö, and recycling of the water from our own farming modules.
SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
Agenda 2030 aims to achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources, and to ensure that people have access to the information and awareness needed for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature. Through our sustainable process Simris contributes directly to SDG 12 and empowers consumers to make more sustainable consumption choices for their health. Our products and our brand act as messengers to raise awareness about the link between consumption and unsustainable commodities, while at the same time also offering actual alternatives.
SDG 14: Life below water
The perhaps most evident and profound relation between Simris and Agenda 2030 is to be found in SDG 14, Life below water. To save our oceans is to save the planet. Farmed omega-3 from algae radically reduces the need and demand for conventional sources from fish oil and krill. In this way, we clearly contribute to a more sustainable management of marine resources. Increased use of algal oil and other algae-derived ingredients instead of fish and krill oil reduce the economic motivations for overfishing, illegal fishing and destructive fishing methods, in accordance with SDG 14.