Our History

Pharma MarineTM 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 MarineTM), 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.




As the oldest of six siblings – the intention was that Lauritz would take over his parent’s 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 he grew older – he also fell in love with the profession, as his father did as a young man. 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 1987 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 all of his time on Napro Pharma. Together with partners he also 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 father´s 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 MarineTM was established, with the aim to develop new and healthy natural ingredients from eco-friendly marine sources. Now we have a new state-of-art factory, with an experienced international team with versatile professionals in the field of lipid nutritional development. Two of the team members, Ingjerd Lystad (Production Director) and Martin Frostad (CTO), have been working together with Leif Kjetil since 1994 and 1988, first at Ocean Lipro then Napro Pharma and now at Pharma MarineTM. 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 CalaMarine® was produced. It was very important for Pharma MarineTM 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 from food production of squid.


Pharma MarineTM 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 LipidMarineTM. 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 by his father. Pharma MarineTM 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, GourmetMarineTM 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 high quality omega-3 oil with healthy vegetable oils we are able to provide consumers with an oil they can use on their food. With GourmetMarineTM 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 in Norway.

We are proud to be part of the Quality of Life Industry. And as 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 premium quality products from sustainable sources.