Ahiflower Oil granted EU Novel Food status

Nature’s Crops International (NCI) has been given the go-ahead from the EC to market its Ahiflower Oil as a novel food ingredient and is now commercially available under licence to brands and manufacturers for the first time.

The oil is extracted from the seeds of the Buglossoides arvensis plant, a crop new to the UK where it is currently cultivated by over 30 independent farmers.

Ahiflower started life as a weed, commonly known as wheat thief or gromwell, and is part of the borage family. Developed over 12 years by NCI – the exclusive grower and producer of Ahiflower oil – the crop is completely natural, sustainable and fully traceable.

Ahiflower oil has high levels of omega-3s – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) stearidonic acid (SDA) – and is an excellent source of omega-6 gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and linoleic acid (LA) as well as the omega-9 oleic acid (OA). The company points out that flaxseed, chia and algal oils don’t contain SDA or GLA and that Ahiflower Oil has six to ten times more SDA than hemp seed oil and up to 60% more than echium oil.

The oil has up to four time more omega-3 EPA conversion benefits than flaxseed oil and, the company says, is the most effective combined essential fatty acid source from a single Non-GM plant. Ahiflower Oil also benefits from having a pleasant taste.

Andrew Hebard, CEO of Technology Crops International, parent company to NCI, commented: “As a complete source of essential fatty acids, Ahiflower Oil is superior to flax or evening primrose supplements, and an excellent substitute to fish oil. The EU novel foods approval marks the culmination of 12 years of dedicated research and agricultural development to offer a game-changing alternative to conventional plant sources of omega-3s. We can now provide consumers including vegetarians, vegans and those concerned about the sustainability of marine oils with a more viable and turbo-charged form of plant based essential fatty acids.”

“Ahiflower Oil is a clean, green, and appealing omega-rich solution for consumers, health practitioners, and natural products brands who want to increase daily omega-3 intakes to recommended levels, but not at the expense of depleting fisheries worldwide,” added Greg Cumberford, NCI’s VP strategic initiatives. “A single 1,000mg gel cap of fish oil requires approximately 1kg of oily fish to manufacture. Comparatively, a single hectare of Ahiflower can produce 200,000 x 1g gel caps each year. It would take over 20 metric tonnes of oily fish to produce the same amount of oil as one hectare of Ahiflower Oil.”

The company hopes to expand production across the UK as recognition of Ahiflower Oil grows, and continue to invest in further agronomy studies to improve the overall performance of the crop for the future.

Food supplements brand Vertese is the first to bring a product containing Ahiflower oil to the UK and Irish markets. Brand manager, Marcus Randall commented: “We’re delighted to bring this unique new omega-rich oil to the market.  Our 1,000mg one-a-day Ahiflower Oil capsule is an exciting addition to our range of supplements tailored especially to support vegetarian and vegan diets.”