The brand is the work of co-founders Prateek Agarwal and Shreya Celly. Agarwal said worrying high cholesterol levels during a routine checkup made him wonder about his long-term cardiovascular health, given his family history of heart disease. His doctor recommended that he take a fish oil supplement as a long-term prophylactic measure.
Find an Omega-3 for Vegetarians
The problem was that Agarwal, who grew up in a family of practicing Hindus in India, couldn’t incorporate fish oil into his vegetarian lifestyle. And in any case, the smell of the product was a non-starter after years of eating this way.
“My whole extended family, none of us ate meat. Not even eggs, ”he said.
Celly, who grew up in the United States, said she was a vegetarian since about 7th grade. When a doctor recommended fish to her, she said that she too was struggling with the fishy aftertaste of the product.
Agarwal, who has a background in marketing and sustainability, looked for an alternative with Celly, who has a background in biomedical sciences. To start their brand, Calgee, the couple went with perhaps the longest-established ingredient in the space, Life’s Omega by DSM (formerly known as Life’s DHA plus EPA).
This ingredient comes from the patented Martek process, which DSM acquired in 2010 for more than $ 1 billion. Martek had developed a way to cultivate suitable strains of Schizochytrium algae in a fermentation-like system.
At the time of the acquisition, Martek dominated the infant formula markets with a high DHA content that could easily be incorporated into bottle feeding formulas. Adequate DHA is helpful for the proper development of the child’s brain.
The algae platform was also designed to express both EPA and DHA. The mature ingredient used in the Calgee product provides 300 mg of DHA and 150 mg of EPA in a 1 gram serving of seaweed oil.
Agarwal said he did a lot of research into what consumers had to say about existing omega-3 supplements.
“While researching the market, I spent a lot of time reading one- and two-star reviews on Amazon. Combined with my experience of taking fish oil supplements, I knew our product had to be odorless and without a fishy aftertaste in order to meet consumer expectations, ”he said.
One of the problems that has generally slowed the uptake of algae constituents over the years has been its relatively high cost. Agarwal and Celly believe that their direct route to the consumer with little overhead to go to market will help them deliver a product at a reasonable price.
Calgee sells its omega-3s for around $ 30 for monthly delivery with a slight discount for subscription purposes. That’s more than double what some medium-quality fish oil supplements are sold for on Amazon, which also provide around 500 mg of EPA and DHA per serving.
But Agarwal and Celly are betting that the vegetarian positioning will strengthen the brand. There is reason to believe that there is a significant market for such products.
According to the latest data from Gallup’s survey, about 5% of Americans, or about 6.5 million people, say they are vegetarian. And the good news for companies that offer vegetarian products like Calgee is that future trends are good. According to Gallup, 8% of 18 to 34 year olds and 7% of 35 to 54 year olds consider themselves vegetarians.
Although the data are inconsistent, a comparison of these results with other, somewhat older surveys seems to indicate this Vegetarianism and veganism are increasing in the US.
Commitment to sustainability corresponds to consumer trends
Agarwal also said the company has a strong commitment to sustainability. One aspect is of course the use of an algae component produced in a fixed location with well quantified inputs and waste runoffs. This is in contrast to harvesting fish oil with all of its ocean health and carbon footprint concerns. But he also emphasized that the brand is also committed to using sustainable packaging as much as possible. And he said the company also intends to continue with future B Corp certification and work towards carbon neutrality.
Agarwal said all of this will be related to evolving consumer trends and there is some data to support that point of view. According to WARC (World Advertising Research Council) current survey resultsIndicate: “Being locked in has done in a way [consumers] even more aware of issues such as air quality and food waste; Brands need to make more of their green credentials – when they have them. “.