There are many studies citing the health benefits of fish oils. Sindre Tidemand-Johannessen, marketing director at Noble Harvest, tells us about what this means for his company's products, which are full of nutrition, and why being proudly Norwegian bodes well for consumers.
Noble Harvest has global distribution reach, but its philosophy is home-grown. Started by marketing director Sindre Tidemand-Johannessen's father, fisheries biologist Petter, this family-run enterprise understands the bounty in its local waters.
"My father has been working with fish all his life," says Tidemand-Johannessen, "and he wanted to source something he believes in, something unique. I graduated business school and started working with him so we could build the company together.
"It's not just because we are Norwegian that we use fish from Norway," he explains. "The country is famous for high-quality fish and strict regulations. It has produced fish oil for centuries."
This is why the company chooses only wild and farmed fish from the western and northern parts of Norway in the North Atlantic, close to where the production facilities are situated. The fish is caught and processed locally, the oil is produced locally, and Noble Harvest packages its products locally before they are distributed around the world.
"Once the wild fish are caught, the crude oil is produced within a short period of time." Tidemand-Johannessen says.
For the salmon oil, it takes an average of 75 minutes from the moment the live fish enter the factory to the oil being produced.
Norway's Seafood Authority also has stringent rules governing the sustainability of its fishing. It dictates the quotas for each species and the periods when fish can be caught, which makes choosing oils from this region of the world more ethical.
"It is very strict on sustainability and processing," he says. "As far as I understand, it is the strictest in the world."
Noble Harvest focuses on two main brands: SALfresh and NordicSilver. The former is extra-virgin salmon oil produced in partnership with Nordlaks, which is one of the world's largest and fully integrated fish farming companies, responsible for producing thousands of tons of salmon oil every year.
The production of the oil takes place in a state-of-the-art production facility and the separation of the oil occurs in a tricanter - a machine that separates the oil from the protein fraction. After adding natural antioxidants, the oil is kept in nitrogen-controlled containers that ensure vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals are maintained in the product.
SALfresh can be customised to fit particular fatty-acid requirements, which are typically 10-30% EPA and DHA.
"There is a lot of different salmon oil on the market, but SALfresh and its production process are completely unique," says Tidemand-Johannessen. "From catching the fish to cooling it down, to processing it and refining it, we make sure it is only the best oil for human consumption."
NordicSilver is made from a variety of pelagic fish species that meet the specifications for optimal freshness and a complete fatty-acid profile.
Noble Harvest works in close cooperation with other fish oil producers and is currently testing different types of oil from different fish species. Traceability and sustainability combined with the highest quality standards are always in focus for the company. Key to its success is the ability to be innovative, follow the research and produce new products based on the available raw materials.
The various fish species used in NordicSilver oil have unique and naturally occurring fatty-acid compositions, and embody Noble Harvest's profile for its products: natural fish oil with focus on freshness and sustainability.
Referring to "thousands of studies" on the benefits of omega-3 consumption for humans, including cardiovascular, cognitive health and anti-inflammatory properties, Tidemand-Johannessen is enthusiastic about the healthiness of his company's products.
"We humans do not produce these vital fatty acids ourselves," Tidemand-Johannessen says. "We have been eating fish for thousands of years, and it's a great source of omega-3. Supplements exist because we do not eat as much fish as we should. Our diets have shifted to include more processed food, and we need supplements just to get enough nutrition."
Noble Harvest works closely with various scientific institutions and respected researchers. It is committed to maintaining a high level of competence in producing top-quality fish oils, based on the latest research and optimal product development.
There are two different forms of omega-3 in the world, explains Tidemand-Johannessen. There are concentrated oils processed for pharmaceuticals with very high omega-3 levels, and there are natural fish oils that include omega-3 as well as omega-6, 9, 11 and 13.
"There is a matrix of fatty acids your body uses, not just omega-3," he says. "Natural oils, such as those found in SALfresh and NordicSilver, have the organic composition that represents live fish as closely as possible. The less processing we need, the more natural it is, and the more the body recognises it as food and uses everything in it."
Tidemand-Johannessen is not opposed to taking omega supplements in capsule form; the company distributes oils this way, too. He always advises liquids over them, however: "When you take 10ml or a spoonful of fish oil, you will get enough of the necessary omegas, according to the recommendations of every country in the world."
Another perk of liquids is the versatility of consumption, such as mixing the Noble Harvest's refined fish oils with smoothies. Tidemand-Johannessen assures it won't make a drink taste or smell like the sea.
"It needs to taste good in order for the consumer to buy it," he says. "In a liquid product, you cannot camouflage the quality like you can in a capsule." Noble Harvest's oils have a neutral taste similar to plant-based oils.
Tidemand-Johannessen has even baked a carrot cake with it. "I used some fish oil and it tasted amazing," he says. "Ours is an honest product; the consumer will taste and smell the difference."
The neutral taste means the fish oil can also act as an alternative to palm oil. "Palm oil has a lot of applications, such as cooking," Tidemand-Johannessen says, "but it is not particularly healthy for you, nor is it good for the environment. It is unsustainable.
"If we can use fish oil as a replacement - although not for all the plant oils, of course, which are used far more than fish oil - then it can help us have more sustainable product offerings."
Tidemand-Johannessen says Noble Harvest's salmon oil includes a mix of marine and vegetable fatty acid, since the salmon feed contains plant oils. This benefits the way the company uses the oil, and the products it can produce from the raw material.
"This is essential for our refined salmon oil products," he says. "You get more of the applications of the vegetable oils, such as burning at a higher temperature, improved stability, and the reduced smell and taste of fish, with all the healthy benefits of the marine source."
It's on this type of innovation in food ingredients that Noble Harvest wishes to focus its energy. The company is already producing fish oils with varied flavours and aromas, such as orange and lemon.
"This addition is just to offer something unique to our customers," he says. "Our oil is already natural and we believe fish oil can be used much more than it is used today. We know it can replace unhealthy fatty acids."
Noble Harvest places transparency in its dealing with customers at the business's core. It focuses on building close and cooperative business-to-business relationships, and values health and sustainability. With high-quality products forming the foundation of Noble Harvest, this family company intends to keep its lines in Norwegian waters, ensuring that only the best fish go into its oils.