Plant-based oils company AAK has agreed a partnership to supply algae-based docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for infant formula while expanding its portfolio of speciality lecithins following the acquisition of BIC Ingredients.

The DHA supply agreement with Progress Biotech would allow the company to expand its portfolio of active lipids, AAK said in a statement on 28 September.

“This partnership means we can offer infant formula manufacturers a plant-based DHA oil that meets the highest demands on quality. Our algal DHA also has neutral taste and colour, which is difficult to achieve with alternatives based on fish oil,” AAK’s head of global special nutrition Dr Raimund C Hoenes said.

Netherlands-based Progress Bitotech specialises in the development of sustainable DHA products from algae and has European Union (EU) approval for the use of its algal oil in infant formula.

An omega-3 fatty acid that is commonly derived from fish oils, DHA is mandatory in infant formula in the EU.

Netherlands-based BIC Ingredients, the lecithin arm of BIC International Holding, supplies non-GM speciality lecithin and lecithin compounds.

Following its acquisition, AAK said it would integrate the products into its Akolec range of speciality lecithins.

“BIC Ingredients is a natural fit with our business. By expanding our portfolio further, we will be able to create even better solutions in close collaboration with our customers globally,” AAK Natural Emulsifiers commercial director Alec van Veldhoven said.

Lecithin is a natural emulsifier produced from plant-based oils such as soya, sunflower and rapeseed.