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Brain food

Ascenta products

Despite its powerhouse health benefits, fish oil’s reputation for poor taste and smell has kept it out of many Western diets.

But since 2003, a Nova Scotia-based company has been working to change all that through global sale of their high-quality fish oil supplements — and all without the “fishy” aftertaste.

“Fresh fish doesn’t smell, but once fish oils come in contact with light, heat and oxygen, the fats oxidize, and you get a fishy taste and smell,” explains Marc St. Onge, founder and president of Ascenta.

But by using fresh and sustainable sources like anchovy, sardine and squid, the company has perfected a process that preserves all the power of Omega-3 fatty acids within the fish oil while eliminating any undesirable tastes and odors.

The result: immensely successful bottled fish oils and soft gel products that are helping to protect consumers around the world against the chronic inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, and even obesity.

In fact, by placing a strong emphasis on research, Marc and his team — now grown from 3 to 60 employees! — have developed a whole line of health-based products, including a unique plant-based product for vegetarians made from algae and a seed crop called echium.

And then, there’s an Omega-3 supplement for horses, now highly favored by trainers and vets, including those associated with the Canadian and U.S. Olympic equestrian teams.

According to Marc, ACOA has played a valuable role in Ascenta’s accessing capital, but there are other important aspects to the partnership.

“It’s a lot more than a financial transaction. You have a support team that’s always trying to connect you with resources and other partners who can help your company succeed.”

And after eight years, Ascenta is still operating under the same core values of environmental responsibility and sustainability that they did when Marc first envisioned the company.

Today, they’re especially proud to have been the first natural products company to join 1% for the Planet, a membership of companies committed to donating a minimum of 1% of their total revenue back to environmental non-profit groups.

“To have become the number one company for our type of product in Canada has been a big success story for us.”  

And by continuing to advance the quality, processing, and prospecting of sustainable ingredients, Ascenta is setting its sights on becoming number one in other markets, as well.

And there’s nothing fishy about that.

Published January 11, 2013