Finnish food technology company Omecol is hoping to export its functional food modification technology to companies in the UK and US before too long.

Speaking on behalf of Omecol, Meria Heikelä told an audience of food journalists in London, UK yesterday [Wednesday] that the company is in advanced talks to bring its technology to both markets.

Launched in 1997, Omecol has two core products based around the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DHA and ALA. The first is the Epacol™ ingredient, which has been patent pending since May 2002.

The ingredient contains Omega-3 fatty acids, water, starch, protein, vitamins and minerals and can be used in foods containing lipids. It can be added to raw materials or used to replace a component in the standard recipe of a product.

One of its key selling points, said Heikelä, is that the taste, texture, smell or shelf-life of a product enhanced by Epacol™ do not differ from the non-enhanced product. It has been used in baked goods (bread, cakes and biscuits), convenience foods, processed meat, poultry and fish, snacks and pasta, dairy, frozen foods and beverages containing lipids. Heikelä said that the use of Epacol™ is "cost effective" although it was difficult to put a figure on exact production costs.

The second product is the Omecol Method®, a technology used to modify the fat content of food products. Widely patented in Europe and the US, the Method is essentially a way of directly adding health-promoting omega fatty acids into food in the process. The Method includes a strictly controlled process in which the designer oil is mixed into the raw material.

Again, Heikelä stressed that the nature of the end foods is no different from their non-enhanced equivalents, and that implementing the Method does not require significant investment in the production line.