Hafkalk is a dietary supplement produced from calcareous algae which is pumped out of the ocean floor in Arnarfjördur, the West Fjords, and dried in a factory in Bíldudalur. The algae are also used for animal feed and fertilizers.
From the West Fjords. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
The factory is run by Íslenska kalkthörungafélagid, which is owned by an Irish company. The algae are sold all around the world. More emphasis is now being placed on the factory in Bíldudalur than the company’s factory in Ireland, Morgunbladid reports.
Managing director of Íslenska kalkthörungafélagid Gudmundur Valgeir Magnússon said increased sales has led to all of the factory space being used. Employees work on shifts around the clock and can hardly cope with the demand.
The company has invested in another dryer and begun constructing a building to house the new equipment.
It is estimated that 35,000-40,000 tons of algae will be processed this year with the ability to double the amount in 2012 after the new dryer will be taken into use.
Jörundur Gardarsson, owner and managing director of Hafkalk, who is also quality manager at Íslenska kalkthörungafélagid, said the best algae from the factory in Bíldudalur is sent to England where it is processed for human consumption.
The majority of the dietary supplement is sold abroad but part of it is sent back to Iceland where it is placed in capsules, wrapped and distributed to local stores.
Two years ago, Gardarsson made a distribution agreement with Icepharma who say Hafkalk has proven a hit in markets.
Gardarsson is careful about making statements on the benefits of taking algae because there are no scientific studies to reference but said some buyers use it to make up for the lack of calcium in food, for example to prevent osteoporosis.
It also seems to reduce pain due to osteoarthritis and reduce restless legs syndrome and cramps. “The mixture seems to have a good effect on people, animals and plants. The nutrient uptake seems efficient,” he commented.
Gardarsson is now interested in expanding operations from harvesting wild algae to include cultivation of algae and seaweed for use in other dietary supplements and spices.
Click here to read about Icelandic seaweed sold at Whole Foods.