AstaReal celebrates one year of success in Moses Lake

MOSES LAKE – AstaReal Technologies celebrated its one-year anniversary in Moses Lake Thursday by inviting community leaders to its facility for live music, barbecue and a short presentation regarding the past, present and future of the company.

AstaReal Technologies is a subsidiary of the Fuji Chemical Industry group, which is headquartered in Japan. AstaReal cultivates microalgae to produce an antioxidant compound called astaxanthin.

Eric Caston, of AstaReal, gave attendees at Thursday’s event an overview of what astaxanthin is in layman’s terms. Essentially, astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring, bright red pigment in the carotenoid family that operates as an antioxidant. According to information provided at the event, however, astaxanthin is much more powerful than other antioxidants. The compound is 500 times stronger than Vitamin E and 6,000 times stronger than Vitamin C, according to the information.

“Astaxanthin is often called the ‘king of the carotenoids’ because of its extremely high antioxidant power,” Caston said.

The compound is found in many marine organisms. The reason organisms like lobster, shrimp and crab turn red when cooked is because of their astaxanthin contents, Caston said. Salmon have a unique ability to store large amounts of astaxanthin as well, making it the main source of the compound in human diets.

The ultimate source of astaxanthin is in algae, Caston said. At the plant in Moses Lake, a microalgae is cultivated to produce the compound. The algae is normally green in nature, but when conditions in its environment become difficult, the algae produces large amounts of astaxanthin, which essentially acts as a forcefield to protect the algae in its harsh conditions. Caston said in red form, the algae can survive weeks and even months, even when water has completely dried up in its environment.

Caston said the entire process involving the algae and astaxanthin production is part of its natural life cycle and no genetic modification of the organism is involved.

Caston also highlighted some of the research that has been conducted surrounding astraxanthin. Because of the compound’s high antioxidant power and because it is a safe, natural ingredient, Caston said astaxanthin has been the focal point of more than 450 studies, including 100 human clinical studies. He said AstaReal is the most studied brand in human clinical studies.

Benefits of astaxanthin that have been studied include benefits for muscular endurance, eye fatigue, blood and cardiovascular systems, Caston said. He said a study investigating its possible use with anti-diabetes protection is currently underway and should be completed by the end of the year. Information provided by AstaReal also listed skin aging defense, immune system booster, liver health and metabolic syndrome, lowering gastric inflammation, fertility and capillary circulation as other areas of clinical study regarding the benefits of the astaxanthin.

“More studies in those areas are definitely needed, but the evidence is very promising, that astaxanthin can help support and maintain normal functioning of our blood and cardiovascular systems,” Caston said.

Several representatives of AstaReal and the Fuji Chemical Industry group traveled to attend the event and delivered thankful remarks to the city of Moses Lake, Grant County and its people for welcoming the company to the area and contributing to its success in the first year.

Toshiyuki Yamagishi, president of AstaReal, opened the presentation by extending a great deal of thanks to a group of community leaders involved in making the plant’s construction in Moses Lake possible. He said it is thanks to the many “wonderful resources” in Moses Lake and Grant County, like hydroelectricity, that AstaReal has had great success with its new plant.

“I’d like to emphasize that AstaReal Technologies would not have been able to have this successful operation without the Moses Lake community,” Yamagishi said.

Kyle Lynch, legislative assistant for the office of Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, delivered some remarks on behalf of the senator. Lynch said the accomplishments of AstaReal in such a short time have been impressive and that their presence has been mutually beneficial, citing that the company’s local plant has created 52 jobs in Moses Lake.

Grant County Economic Development Council (GCEDC) executive director Jonathan Smith also attended the event and delivered some remarks during the presentation portion of the afternoon. Smith spoke on the relationship between Grant County and Japan, dating back to 1968 when Japan Airlines moved its major training programs to Grant County International Airport. Smith also read an excerpt from the Fuji Chemical Industry group’s corporate message.

“We also see the 21st Century as the era of anti-aging,” the message reads, via the Fuji website. “We believe that preventative medicine will play an even greater role in future healthcare as advances in anti-aging and lifestyle disease research drive improvements both in the treatment and prevention of disease and illness.”

Smith said it was an honor for him to have worked with the site selection team, Fuji Chemical Industry president Mitsunori Nishida and his team as they chose Moses Lake as the location for the new state-of-the-art facility.

Fuji Health Science president Charles DuPrince gave attendees an overview of AstaReal and Fuji Chemical Industry’s global footprint. Fuji Chemical Industry is headquartered in Japan, as is AstaReal. AstaReal also has one location in Sweden and three in the United States, including New Jersey and Moses Lake. The third U.S. location is the company’s newest venture in Seattle, so new, DePrince said, that the location is not reflected on the company’s map yet. The Seattle location will be responsible for marketing AstaReal astaxanthin retail products throughout the U.S. to the medical food and dietary supplement markets.

AstaReal had run into a wall in which it had reached its capacity for astaxanthin production, DePrince said, and the company was operating with a “global shortage.” He said the installation of AstaReal Technologies in Moses Lake created enough capacity to fuel growth of the business for at least the next five years.

Moses Lake Mayor Dick Deane was on hand to thank the company representatives on hand and presented a proclamation of gratitude to Nishida and Yamagushi.

Nishida rounded out the presentation portion of the event by giving thanks to all in attendance for the support of AstaReal in its first year. He said the future of AstaReal astaxanthin products looks bright.

“Our mission is to deliver astaxanthin to as many people as possible worldwide,” Nishida said.

There was a stand at Thursday’s event in which patrons could learn more about retail products currently offered by AstaReal, in addition to the live music and food. Many factions of Moses Lake were represented, including the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the Moses Lake Police Department, the Moses Lake Fire Department, the Board of County Commissioners, the Moses Lake City Council, the Grant County Economic Development Council and more.

 

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