Sea-ing is believing

Why a New Brunswick company wants to take phytoplankton to the masses

wc_karenDavid Hunter believes in phytoplankton’s healing powers.

He believes in it so much he’s started a business that sells it: Blugenics Innovations Ltd. Phytoplankton are microscopic plants eaten by marine life in the world’s oceans, and they are packed with omega fatty acids, vitamins A, C, D and K, beta carotene, dietary fibre, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron and protein. “Sixty per cent of the people who take it will feel something and 40 per cent will have a profound experience.”

Hunter, who is president and CEO of the Sackville, New Brunswick- based company, says company-led studies and anecdotal reports from those who consume it show it’s effective in treating everything from digestive issues, inflammation, fibromyalgia and migraines to chronic pain, low energy and skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema. “Sixty per cent of the people who take it will feel something and 40 per cent will have a profound experience,” Hunter says.

The experiences must be profound because the products Blugenics sells, which go by the brand name ‘Karen’, are a dark green colour and have a strong odour. “It smells like the sea, like seaweed, crabs and other shellfish. It’s very pungent,” Hunter says.

Hunter admits the colour and smell of the Karen products can be a barrier to people trying it. However, the company sold 48,000 units and had $1.8 million in sales in 2016, and its products are in 1,000 stores across Canada. The company was launched in November of 2015. “Obviously we’re doing something right,” he says.

But like any entrepreneur, Hunter would like to do even more right. Sales have plateaued and to increase market share, Blugenics’ strategy is to enlarge its product line, which currently includes powder, tablets and moisturizing lotion. Hunter says the next step is introducing cereal and power bars with a smidge of phytoplankton to hordes of health-conscious Canadians. “I hope phytoplankton catches on in a big way,” Hunter says. “Then I can sit back and see what happens.”

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