Our History

Pharma Marine™ is a Norwegian company founded on long family traditions.

The Gjendemsjø family has been innovative for generations. Lauritz, father of Leif Kjetil the founder of Pharma Marine™, was a pioneer in the fishing and fish processing industry and has always seen the importance of utilizing everything we harvest from nature - a mantra that his descendants were taught and that still is the base of the Pharma Marine™ philosophy. Our history covers activities and experiences from ocean fisheries and boat building to establishment of factories for product development, production, sales and distribution of various marine products. We are grateful for our history and where it has taken us. Every part of our history has shaped us to be an innovative company with appreciation, care, and respect for nature.


As the oldest of six siblings – the intention was that Lauritz would take over his parents’ farm. But as he grew older his eyes was fixed on the ocean with big dreams of being a fisherman. At the age of twenty he began his career on the fishing boat “Frisko”. He quickly gained experience, and he later became a skipper.


The next step for Lauritz was to construct his own boat. Together with his brother – he built “Klaring” – which was named after their two wives – “Klara” and “Inger”. It was the first fishing boat designed with thrusters, and was built for fishing herring, mackerel and sprat. In the late 60's, Lauritz wanted to take things to a new level and increase the value of the fish they caught. He and his companions built a fish-processing factory where they processed fish and finished consumer goods. As a young child Leif Kjetil wanted to help his father and at the age of 8 he started cutting cod tongues. In a way you could say that this was Leif Kjetil’s first business since he was selling this delicacy to relatives and neighbors.


Lauritz bought a new facility in Brattvåg where they processed fish. Leif Kjetil used to help out at the factory after school and as his father he also fell in love with the profession. As he grew older he took on more responsibility – driving along the Norwegian coast selling fishing products to local shops.


To optimize the utilization of the trimmings from the processing plant, Lauritz and Leif Kjetil got the idea to use residual material from the fish to produce fish protein and fish oil and in 1986 Ocean Napro (later called Napro Pharma) was established. They produced marine products in two piece hard gelatin capsules and packed it in bottles. They were actually among the first in the world to put fish oil and fish protein in two piece hard gelatin capsules.


Leif Kjetil and his partners established Ocean Lipro and built their first omega-3 factory in Brattvåg. When Brødrene Aarsether’s Cod Liver oil factory came for sale in 1989 they saw a great opportunity and decided to buy the factory in Ålesund, which was the largest cod liver oil factory in Norway. Leif Kjetil and his team changed the factory from being a cod liver oil factory to become one of the first factories in the world to produce omega-3 concentrates.


Leif Kjetil sold his shares in Ocean Lipro to devote more of his time on Napro Pharma. Together with partners he started another company (Norwegian Oils) that was located next to Napro Pharma, which was focused on omega-3 concentrates and natural marine oils. These two companies later merged into Napro Pharma.


As the years passed, Leif Kjetil had been greatly influenced by his fathers way of thinking. And when Napro Pharma was sold to Cognis, they had created one of the most profitable and successful Omega-3 fish oil companies in the world.


Leif Kjetil began planning the next step for the Gjendemsjø family. He wanted to create a paradigm shift in the Omega-3 industry - with focus on eco-friendly and flexible production, R&D, sustainable raw materials and new healthy marine ingredients.
With a game changing concept ready – Pharma Marine™ was established, with the aim to develop new and healthy natural ingredients from eco-friendly marine sources. A new state-of-the-art factory was built with an experienced international team with versatile professionals in the field of lipid nutritional development. Two of the team members, Ingjerd Lystad (Chief Production Officer) and Martin Frostad (Chief Technical Officer), have been working with omega-3 oils together with Leif Kjetil since 1994 and 1988, first at Ocean Lipro then Napro Pharma and now at Pharma Marine™. So it is safe to say they are a team that complement each other and work very well together. They are probably the most experienced team in the industry.


The idea about omega-3 oil from squid was born in the end of 2007, and in the beginning of 2009 the first batch with CalaMarine® was produced. It was very important for Pharma Marine that the new product would be from sustainable raw materials and we wanted to bring something new to the omega-3 market. CalaMarine® was the first omega-3 concentrates made from trimmings of food production of squid.


Pharma Marine saw the need of being able to offer customers the more classic type of fish oil from anchovies, sardines and mackerel and launched the ingredient line LipidMarine. This is a line with a wide range of high quality EPA and DHA oils with a great sensory profile.


Leif Kjetil had for a long time had a dream about using the trimmings, not only the liver, from Norwegian fishing boats to produce omega-3 oils. Being from a fisher family he knew very well that the fishermen threw the trimmings back to the ocean because there was no one that wanted the trimmings. Leif Kjetil was and still is very passionate about caring for resources and believes that we should utilize everything we harvest from nature – values he has inherited from his father. Pharma Marine™ decided that we wanted to partner with Norwegian fishing vessels to see how we could utilize the trimmings in a good way. As a result of this, CodMarine® was launched in 2014.


After a lot of thinking and experimenting about how we could help consumers increase their omega-3 intake, GourmetMarine™ was developed. Knowing that not all consumers want to take liquid oil on a spoon or soft gels, we wanted to find a way to help more people get omega-3 in their diet. By mixing premium quality omega-3 oil with healthy vegetable oils we are able to provide consumers with a delicious oil they can use on their food. With GourmetMarine™ we hope to inspire more people to get omega-3 in to their diet.

In the end of 2016 we installed a specially developed liquid bottling line so we can offer our customers finished product with unique formulations bottled at our facility in Norway.


We continuously work to find new and convenient ways for consumers to take their EPA and DHA. In the end of 2018 we installed a new machine for filling oil in sachets and pouches. This new delivery form will make it easier for the consumer to bring fresh oil with them on travels or just out for lunch.
We continue to develop our technologies and methods to be sure we always supply our customers with an oil with superior sensory profile.  


We are proud to be a company which is rich in history and unique marine lipids. We will continue to contribute to knowledge and inspiration for present and future generations by improving people’s health by developing innovative and convenient products from sustainable sources.

Now the next generation in the Gjendemsjø family has joined the Pharma Marine™ team and together we will work to provide premium quality products that are great for our planet, your health and future generations.