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Beauty trade offers new scope for seafood industry

Beauty trade offers new scope for seafood industry

A new programme underway at the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is researching the potential for byproducts and bycatch from the fishing industry, which are currently discarded or used for low-value products such as fishmeal, to be used in the production of skin-care products.

NIWA has received funding of $765 000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) for its programme ‘Te Whatukura a Takaroa: Nutraceuticals from Seafood’, reports the latest newsletter from NIWA’s National Centre for Fisheries & Aquaculture, which was released today. The programme, a partnership between NIWA and Ngâi Tahu Seafood, aims to rapidly progress the identification and development of nutraceutical products based on bioactives derived from the New Zealand seafood industry for the skin-care market.

NIWA Principal Scientist Dr Vicky Webb says consumer demand for natural products in the lucrative skin-care market is continuing to grow. Estimates for 2000 put the value at NZ$15 billion in the United States alone.

‘Currently, there are very few products based on marine bioactives, but major skin-care companies are expanding the source of bioactives used in their product range. One reason for this is to take advantage of the consumer perception that biological products from the marine environment have potent nutraceutical properties, especially for skin health.’

‘The combination of our research skills with the commercialisation, marketing capability, and export orientation of Ngâi Tahu Seafood will ensure the development and commercialisation of new products. We’ll provide the screens to identify compounds with the potential to be commercially attractive products, and the chemical identification of the compounds that we find.’

Dr Webb says NIWA’s bioactives team is focussing their research on antioxidants which help prevent skin ageing, and vasodilators that help increase blood flow to the skin, assisting in the removal of toxins that accumulate due to daily wear and tear. She says the same screen will also identify compounds that decrease blood flow. ‘These compounds are potentially useful for people who have red skin and wish to reduce their colour. Compounds that help skin repair are the targets of yet another screen.’

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