Kellogg Co. could begin adding a heart-healthy compound to its products next year, according to a biotech company that recently signed a supply agreement with the cereal and cookie maker.
Kellogg has signed a 15-year agreement with Columbia, Md.-based Martek Biosciences Corp. for an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, Martek spokeswoman Beth Parker said.
Martek's long-chain omega-3 fatty acids already are commonly added to baby formula to stimulate eye and brain development. Now the company is trying to widen the market by capitalizing on the compounds' benefits for the heart.
Omega-3 fatty acids — found naturally in fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring and lake trout — are believed to help prevent cardiovascular disease. In September, the Food and Drug Administration said DHA and EPA, or eiscosapentaenoic acid, could be marketed for their benefits to the heart.
Martek first announced the Kellogg deal on Feb. 4 — though without naming Kellogg as the other partner. Parker confirmed Monday that the "Fortune 500 food company" referred to in the announcement was Battle Creek-based Kellogg.
"While subject to final product selection, food formulation, and consumer testing, the food company intends for the initial product launch to take place in mid-2006," Martek said.
However, there is no guarantee that the agreement will result in a Kellogg line of DHA-fortified products.
"Kellogg Co. is exploring possibilities with Martek as part of our ongoing commitment to provide consumers with innovative products that provide a range of nutrition benefits," Kellogg spokeswoman Kimberley Goode said in an e-mail. "Since we are exploring possibilities, it's too early to say what the outcome will be."
Kellogg shares fell 31 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $43.99 in early afternoon trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has been trading at 52-week range of $37.70 to $45.59. Martek shares fell 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $66.44 in early afternoon trading Monday on the NYSE. The stock has been trading at 52-week range of $38.50 to $73.36.