Calgary, Alberta and Mountain View, California – October 12, 2022 – Willow Biosciences Inc. (“Willow” or the “Company”) (TSX: WLLW; OTCQB: CANSF), a leading biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing industrial manufacturing of pure, consistent and sustainable functional ingredients, is pleased to announce that it has completed proof of concept work, and has started yeast strain optimization and process development toward commercial production of astaxanthin, a powerful, naturally occurring, antioxidant compound that is used in diverse industries such as animal feed, food & nutrition, and cosmetics.
“We are pleased to add astaxanthin as the next functional ingredient to our product portfolio”, said Dr. Peter Seufer-Wasserthal, Willow’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. “Astaxanthin meets all the criteria for development using our fully integrated FutureGrown™ technology platform. It has a large addressable market, with the majority of product currently supplied being chemically produced using a petroleum feedstock. Willow offering a natural, clean, sustainably produced product allows not only penetration of the current large volume market, but expansion of the market for human health & wellness, where there is currently no high-purity, cost effective bio-based product available.”
Astaxanthin is a red pigment, belonging to a group of chemicals known as carotenoids. In addition to its pigmentation properties, it is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. Astaxanthin occurs naturally in algae and is used as an animal feed additive, enhancing the red or pink color in trout, salmon, shrimp, lobster and other seafood, and yolk color in eggs. Astaxanthin is also used in food & nutrition and cosmetics, where its powerful antioxidant properties are prized.
Astaxanthin is an attractive functional ingredient that has a large, established market, estimated to be approximately $US 750 million in 2022 with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 8%, and projected to exceed $US 1 billion by 2027. The largest opportunity is for animal feed, which represents the majority of sales for astaxanthin globally. Utilizing its fully integrated FutureGrown™ technology platform and strains previously developed on its cannabinoid program, Willow is developing a high purity, sustainably produced natural astaxanthin using yeast that is bio-identical to that found in nature yet expected to be sufficiently cost-effective to compete with the chemically produced product. Willow’s FutureGrown™ Astaxanthin is also expected to be suitable for the food & nutrition and cosmetics markets, which are currently served by low-purity, high-cost material produced using algae. With global consumer expectations shifting to healthier, more natural sources of functional ingredients, Willow believes its FutureGrown™ Astaxanthin will be welcomed by the market, and in high demand.
Willow has completed proof of concept work, and development is currently underway to establish a commercial production process for pure, consistent & sustainable FutureGrown™ Astaxanthin. The Company intends to update stakeholders as key milestones along the development timeline are met, which may include establishing partnerships for product development and distribution.
An updated version of the Willow’s corporate presentation reflecting its current product portfolio is available on the Company’s website, www.willowbio.com.
About Willow Biosciences Inc.
Willow develops and produces precision fermented functional ingredients for the health and wellness, food and beverage and personal care markets. Willow’s FutureGrown™ biotechnology platform allows large-scale production with sustainability at its core. Willow’s R&D team has a proven track record of developing and commercializing bio-based manufacturing processes and products to benefit our B2B partners and their customers.
For further information, please visit our website at www.willowbio.com or contact:
CPA Chief Financial Officer
CFA Vice President,
202, 1201 5th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2R 0Y6
This news release may include forward-looking statements including opinions, assumptions, estimates and the Company’s assessment of future plans and operations, and, more particularly, statements concerning: development and commercial production of FutureGrown™ Astaxanthin; potential demand and market size in respect of astaxanthin; the continued development of Willow’s FutureGrown™ products, including the ability to obtain all requisite approvals or certifications; intellectual property protection; changing consumer sentiments; and the business plan of the Company generally, including commercial production of FutureGrown™ Astaxanthin. When used in this news release, the words “will,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intent,” “may,” “project,” “should,” and similar expressions are intended to be among the statements that identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are founded on the basis of expectations and assumptions made by the Company which include, but are not limited to: the success of Willow’s strategic partnerships, including the development of future strategic partnerships; the financial strength of the Company; the ability of the Company to fund its business plan using cash on hand and existing resources; market and consumer demand for Willow’s products, including FutureGrown™ Astaxanthin; the ability of the Company to obtain and retain applicable licences; the ability of the Company to obtain suitable manufacturing partners and other strategic relationships; and the successful implementation of Willow’s commercialization and production strategy, generally. Forward-looking statements are subject to a wide range of risks and uncertainties, and although the Company believes that the expectations represented by such forward-looking statements are reasonable, there can be no assurance that such expectations will be realized. Any number of important factors could cause actual results to differ from the Company’s expectations, including but not limited to: biotechnology industry in general; the success of the Company’s research and development strategies; infringement on intellectual property; failure to benefit from partnerships or successfully integrate acquisitions; actions and initiatives of federal and provincial governments and changes to government policies and the execution and impact of these actions, initiatives and policies; import/export and research restrictions for cannabinoid-based operations; competition from other industry participants; adverse U.S., Canadian and global economic conditions; adverse global events and public-health crises, including the current COVID-19 outbreak; failure to comply with certain regulations; departure of key management personnel or inability to attract and retain talent; and other factors more fully described from time to time in the reports and filings made by the Company with securities regulatory authorities. Please refer to the Company’s most recent annual information form and management’s discussion and analysis for additional risk factors relating to Willow, which can be accessed either on Willow’s website at www.willowbio.com or under the Company’s profile on www.sedar.com. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release are made as of the date hereof and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any of the included forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable law. The forward-looking statements contained herein are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.