In 2017, to meet a growing market demand for natural, seafood-derived ingredients for human nutrition, Thai Union invested in a global business unit focusing on marine ingredients. Thai Union Ingredients (TUI) commercializes value adding innovations identified by Thai Union’s cutting-edge Global Innovation Center, while creating a sustainable future for the tuna industry by maximizing the valuation of the whole fish processed by Thai Union.
With the launch of TUI, Thai Union has become the only refiner of high-quality tuna oil with complete end-to-end supply chain and production ownership. Tuna oil is considered one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids and is especially rich in DHA, which is critical to infant brain development and human health in general.
In late 2018, Thai Union successfully commissioned a state-of-the-art, USD $24 million tuna oil refinery in Rostock, Germany, where it will refine fifty to one-hundred tons of tuna fish oil every week. Apart from being in a tech-driven region, the refinery is geographically well-positioned in proximity to most of its customers.
The TUI refinery aims to supply 5,000 metric tons of refined tuna oil annually. The oil will be used primarily by manufacturers of nutrient-dense products including infant formula, dietary supplements, clinical nutrition, and functional foods. TUI is currently exploring opportunities to expand its business into other nutrients production, such as a wide range of protein products and bone calcium.
By having control over the entire production chain, the company can focus on quality and sustainability “from dock to door” while employing traceability. Traceability combats illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; ensures operational compliance on vessels to manage bycatch; and stamps out illegal or forced labor. Since Thai Union also owns the fish from which the oil is extracted, it can secure the required volumes for its customers—unlike refined-tuna-oil-producing competitors that need to source crude oil on the market.